November 2004 Archives

Various people have started emailing us expressing their opposition to the London 2012 Olympics, although not to the concept of the UK participating in and doing well in Olympic Games elsewhere.

They are asking if there is a petition that they can sign.

We will look into the possability of this, especially the e-petition facility offered by the Prime Minister's No. 10 Downing Street website.

This requires at least 300 people willing to provide their names and addresses so that the Cabinet Office can verify a sample of them, in which case the Government is committed to some kind of official response online.

We might be willing to host such an online petition, for submission to the Prime Minister and/or to the International Olympic Committee.

However, we need to look into the Data Protection and Privacy implications (and costs) of collecting online signatures and names and addresses securely - watch this space, and feel free to post comments here.

The London 2012 Candidate File Olympic Games Bid documents (.pdf), as submitted with so much publicity, to the International Olympic Committee have been published.

What is astounding is the actual lack of detailed costings and economic impact assessment, that have been made public, or the assumptions on which the headline figures have been based.

No doubt the reassurances that the Treasury and London taxpayers will soak up any cost overruns is what the IOC want to hear, as well as that the Treasury will give the IOC a 100% tax break on their profits from the project.

In terms of white elephants, the plan seems to be design an 80,000 seater stadium (whilst Wembley Stadium stands idle during the Games), which will then have some tiers of seating removed (but presumably not the roof ?). These rows of seats will then be dumped on some other lucky Local Authority to create a 25,000 seat athletics and rugby stadium. Presumably there will still be the need to fund and construct the core of the building and roof from scratch, even if there are pre-fabricated rows of seats can be re-used from the Olympic stadium.

Who the unlucky Local Authority is, which is willing to take on this white elephant export, is secret.

Where is the business plan for this cast off stadium ? If the running costs need to be subsidised to make it viable, then that is a waste of public money.

The total budget for the Games itself is alleged to be $2.8 billion, but this only includes $37 million for operational security.

The Athens Games cost over $1 billion for security, with 45,000 police, soldiers and private security guards.

Who seriously believes that Al Quaeda etc. will be totally defeated by 2012 ? Surely we are going to have to be spending at least as much on security as the Greeks did, even though they are much less of a target, having stayed out of the Afghan and Iraq wars.

The Bid claims that only 16,500 police and 6,500 private security guards would be needed, even though the same document shows that 22,500 were needed for the Manchester Commonwealth Games.

It is already bad enough that policemen from the suburbs of London are regularly withdrawn for anti-terrorist duties in central London, leading to an increase in crime and disorder. Policing the Olympic Games will do this not just to London, but to the surrouinding counties as well.

This simply does not add up, we could easily be spending $2 billion on security alone, with massive disruption to normal traffic and life in London.

The projected £100 million profit spun by the medi is a pure guess and would be a tiny return on a risky investment of nearly $3 billion.

Surely any profit should go back to the Council Tax payers of London to reduce the minimum of £240 each that they will have to pay over 12 years to subsidise the Games ?

ITV News have conducted an opinion poll which asked 4000 people about whether they supported the London bid for the 2012 Olympics or not.

The percentages who did support the bid show marked regional differences:

Ulster: 87%

North East: 76%

Midlands: 67%

London: 63%

i.e. over one third of Londoners surveyed do NOT support the Bid.

Why is Mayor Ken Livingstone planning to waste so much money on legal disputes with Westminster Council on the siting of a statue of Nelson Mandela in Trafalgar Square?

How can he be allowed to create a £100,000 legal fund from public money ?

Why is the statue itself so horrendously expensive (£400,000 allegedly) ?

Why is a statue being erected whilst Nelson Mandela is still alive ?

What is so wrong with Westminster Council's decision that the most appropriate place for such a statue would be outside South Africa House, on the spot where the long anti-apartheid vigils and demonstrations were held in support of Nelson Mandela ?

It is unclear from the media reports exactly how many of London's firearms trained police officers have withdrawn their voluntary consent to use firearms, in some form of unofficial industrial action in support of the suspension of two of their collegues over a mistaken shooting case over 5 years ago.

Why has this dragged on for so long ?

There is talk of over 100 of the 400 or so officers from the SO19 specialist firearms unit having been stood down from firearms duty.

It is also unclear and what the effect has been on anti-terrorist patrols, on diplomatic and VIP protection, and on the anti-drug gang related gun crime Operation Trident.

Will this "strike" spread to other parts of the country ?

More insight into this affair is likely to come from The Policeman's Blog than from the tv and newspaper media.

Parliamentary Questions to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, answered on the 1st of November 2004.

"Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what her most recent assessment is of the cost to public funds of the proposed London Olympics in 2012; and if she will make a statement. [194207]

Mr. Caborn: As set out in the Command Paper 5867, laid before the House in June 2003, provision has been made for a public sector funding package of up to £2.375 billion to fund Olympic costs.

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport whether Sportscotland will be contributing funding for the proposed Olympic games in London in 2012. [194208]

Mr. Caborn: In the event of a successful London bid, the sports lottery distributors, including Sportscotland, will contribute a total of £340 million to the overall lottery funding package of up to £1.5 billion. This money will be used to fund elite sport and associated sports infrastructure development. Sport England has already committed £40 million towards the development of an aquatics centre in the Olympic Park. Exactly how the remaining £300 million expenditure will be allocated is a matter for the sports lottery distributors. They are now collectively considering how best to contribute to this element of the lottery funding package in order to maximise Olympic opportunities for elite sport and on-going community legacies. Any expenditure by Sportscotland as part of its contribution

1 Nov 2004 : Column 39W

will be entirely for the benefit of Scotland, for investment in its elite athletes and associated sports infrastructure."

Why on earth does the money allocated for "elite athletes" training and subsisdence for any particular Olympic Games competition, get counted under the London 2012 Olympic Games bid ??

Surely this money from the lottery and public sports funds should and will be spent anyway, no matter which city actually hosts the Games ?

"Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what her latest estimate is of the proportion of funding for the proposed London Olympics which will come from the national lottery. [194211]

Mr. Caborn: As set out in paragraph 12 of the Command Paper 5867, laid before the House in June 2003, the expectation is that public funding for Olympic staging will be met in the ratio 11:24, where 11 is the Olympic precept in London, and where 24 is grants by the national lottery. Additionally, as set out in paragraph 11 of the Command Paper, up to £300 million from the sports lottery distributors will be used to fund elite sport and associated sports infrastructure development. A substantial proportion of the overall costs will be met by Olympic revenues or by the private sector.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much of the allocated spending for the 2012 Olympics will be used on (a) construction costs and (b) promotional costs. [191901]

Mr. Caborn: We are in the process of finalising the budget for staging the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London in 2012 should we be successful in our bid. However, the current intention, which is unlikely to change significantly, is that the bulk of the expenditure will go on the construction of venues, provision of transport facilities and the various operational costs associated with staging the games, and that the promotional costs will only be a small proportion of the total.

Mr. Mark Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) whether Point 17 of the Olympic Funding: Memorandum of Understanding between the Government and the Mayor of London

1 Nov 2004 : Column 40W

requires council tax payers in London to fund any overspend associated with the proposed London 2012 Olympics; [194016]

(2) whether the Olympic Funding: Memorandum of Understanding between the Government and the Mayor of London requires the Government to fund any cost overspend associated with the proposed Olympics in London in 2012. [194017]

Mr. Caborn: The robust and business-like approach to planning and financial controls on the part of the Olympic Stakeholders is designed to prevent such overspend. As the memorandum of understanding, laid before Parliament as Command Paper 5867, states in paragraph 17, in the event of any overspend the Government will be the ultimate guarantor. We further reported this to Parliament in a departmental minute dated 2 December 2003. As the memorandum goes on to say, the Government expects to discharge that responsibility (should it arise) in a sharing agreement to be agreed as appropriate with the Mayor of London and through seeking additional national lottery funding in amounts to be agreed at the time. At this stage however, no such specific sharing arrangements exist. Whatever the arrangements which might apply, levels of any London council tax precept would be a matter for the Mayor of London."

Even though the UK Government is the "ultimate guarantor" of the inevitable overspend, they will simply claw back some or all of it from what they would otherwise have goven to the mayor of London's budget, so yes, London will end up like Montreal, Sydney etc. paying for uneconomical sports stadia for many years to come, just like the Millenium Dome.

Stealing so much money from the national lottery sports budget, which will already be reduced by competioton from the special Olympic Games lottery products, must have a bad effect on the normal funding of non-Olympic sports and of school sports facilities etc. throughout the UK.

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