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Corruption & Ethics

Lend Lease's Heygate Olympics

When is a bailout not a bailout? At the recent Heygate CPO hearing Lend Lease, who had to be bailed out by the government over the Athletes’ Village, apparently weren’t happy with this description, ie being bailed out, when they were challenged by objectors. @MichaellondonSF tweeted from the #heygate CPO hearing: ‘Dispute with LendLease about whether govt funding for Athletes' Village had been a bailout’. Others were quite clear that this was indeed a bailout!


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A Lottery of a Legacy!

So what exactly is an Olympic sports legacy? The Government seems to think it is more spectacles of elite sport. George Osborne has decided to waive tax rules to allow Usain Bolt and other top athletes to attend the Grand Prix event to be held at the Olympic Stadium in the summer. He says this is to ‘secure the Olympic Legacy’. Bolt hasn’t yet said he will come. Boris, son of John, has also weighed in with a spectacle of his own, a two day cycling festival to be attended by up to 70,000 including elite cyclists like Wiggo and Trott. Spiffing away Boris said: ‘"Following the superhuman efforts of our Team GB cyclists last year, thousands of cycling enthusiasts, both experienced and amateur, riding a fantastic route through the streets of our fine city is surely a fitting legacy’.

Elsewhere local media are now regularly reporting so-called ‘Olympic Legacy grants’ being made to clubs around the country. Featherstone Rovers Rugby League Club, for example, has been given £50,000 to ‘revamp facilities’. Warlingham Squash and Racketball Club in Surrey has also got £50,000 to make improvements like putting in a boiler and building women’s changing rooms. Several clubs in Northamptonshire are to share £500,000 to do up their facilities. These grants are described as ‘Olympic legacies’. However, it is hard to see what is specifically Olympic about the grants. They are just National Lottery funds which are being distributed by Sport England from a pot of £16.6million from something called the Inspired Facilities Fund.

A couple of sports festivals and a £16.6million fund are not going to make much impression on the present furore surrounding the decline in school sports funding. Far from inspiring a generation London 2012 saw sport participation in the target group of 16 to 25year olds fall.

Nor does it make up for the £2.175billion taken from the National Lottery for the Olympics. This raid on the Lottery included the loss of hundreds of millions of pounds taken from children’s sport in the name of elite sport. Nor has the DCMS repaid the Big Lottery Fund from which it grabbed £638.098million. After over a year of lobbying and a campaign now supported by more than 3,200 charities demanding the return of £425million of the stolen funds it has indicated it may repay £100 to £150million, but not until 2014 at the earliest. Jowell originally promised to repay all the Big Lottery Fund money. The DCMS also say in an attached Freedom of Information response: 'Repayments will not include interest based on inflation'. Most of that is probably lost for good. The rest, of course, will not be repaid at all.

A full rundown of the money taken from the Lottery, which could have been spent on other, better causes was provided in the DCMS Freedom of Information response:

'a total of £2.175 billion of Lottery funding is included in the £9.298bn public sector funding provision for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games…


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Olympics blacklisting - 'ODA were deceived, gullible or negligent'

Not so long ago the ODA was being touted by its former Chair, John Armitt, as a model for running infrastructure projects. Politicians and others should not interfere in these projects, which should receive cross-party support, instead they should be overseen by a quango - like the ODA. Armitt's proposal is backed by the Labour Party, which has created a panel to investigate the management of infrastructure projects. Lord Adonis, one of Armitt's panellists, rushed to endorse his proposal.

Armitt's big idea is based on his claim that the ODA 'got it right'. Far from getting it right the ODA failed to carry out its functions safely, as in the botched remediation, harassed and persecuted local residents affected by its programmes at places like Leyton Marsh and Leabank Square and lied constantly about alleged legacies such as Stratford City or the 'largest new park in Europe for 150 years'.

Now further evidence has emerged of its failure to investigate or even pay attention to allegations of blacklisting by its contractors. The case of Frank Morris was already known back in February 2011. The ODA took no action in response to the protests which followed over either the original sacking of a co-worker or of Frank Morris himself, when he raised objections to the original abuse.

In November 2012, the ODA's Chief Executive, Dennis Hone, told the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee investigating blacklisting:

“The ODA did not receive any evidence or could find any evidence of blacklisting on the Olympic Park during the construction phase or otherwise." He also claimed that: “At that time there was a discussion with our contractors and we requested evidence from people making the allegations and no evidence was forthcoming. If it had been then we would have gone after the contractors involved."


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West Ham to get hammered again?

As expected West Ham are the preferred bidders for the Olympic stadium. The usual claims of hundreds of jobs, legacy benefits, more visitors to the Park, social inclusion, community involvement and profit sharing if the club sells up accompanied the announcement. Actually, as with the rest of the Olympics, this has far more to do with property development and the prospects for making a killing on the redevelopment of the old Green Street ground. Of course, if the owners did sell out it might well be because the club was bankrupt or the owners were experiencing financial difficulties, they already have debts of over £80 million, so there might well not be any profits to share. As for the idea that a football club will attract more visitors to the Park I wasn't aware that many people visit Green Street because West Ham are located there. On the contrary, especially on match days it may have the opposite effect with people trying to avoid the crowds.


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Blacklisting - Ian Kerr comes clean

So now we have it from the horse's mouth. Ian Kerr of The Counsulting Association has given evidence to the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee that 'Sir Robert McAlpine, Balfour Beatty and possibly Skanska' had used his services to run blacklisting checks on workers employed on the Olympic Park.


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Running on black: Blacklisting at the stadium?

Back in the Spring of 2011 Daletech Services sacked Frank Morris after he raised concerns about the dismissal of a fellow worker. The co-worker's name had appeared on a blacklist used by Olympics contractors Skanska and Carillion, who were constructing the Media Centre where the dismissed electrician was working. Recently further accusations of blacklisting at the Olympics have been made against Sir Robert McAlpine, who paid Consulting Association £26,842.20, including a spike of £12,839.20 for 5,836 blacklist checks back in the period July to September 2008 shortly after McAlpine started work on the Olympic Stadium in May 2008.


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Barcelona and London: Who tells the story?

When telling the story of Barcelona Professor Muñoz also made some interesting comments about the previous occupants of the docklands area which was cleared to make way for the new gentrified suburb. They were, he said, 'mainly women and squatters'. If I recall the number moved was 55,000, a lot of plainly undesirable women and squatters! Of course, as with the Lea Valley the allegedly derelict nature of the area was also rehearsed. It was after all a docklands area, rather like the industrial land cleared for the London 2012 Olympics, land deliberately used by the city for 'dirty' projects and providing services others preferred not to have on their doorstep but then condemned for those very purposes to justify its seizure. Professor Muñoz referred to the process by which the company redeveloping the site moved from being publicly controlled to privately controlled, as if this somehow justified the loss of housing for the poor. The Barcelona Olympics was supposed to deliver public benefits but failed to do so. As a public project it was for the city and national governments to ensure this occurred but they failed to do this.


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Paralympic sponsors kill, injure and disable people

By Steve Rushton

Why are corporations that are responsible for disabling people, and even killing people, allowed to brand their products at the Olympics?

This creates a disturbing hypothetical situation: Paralympians competing in London 2012 may have been disabled by the very corporations that their sporting prowess is promoting. More broadly, this draws attention to the number of people across the world that are disabled, killed and suffer due to corporate activities. The World Health Organisation attributes 1 in 5 deaths in the “developing” world to toxic and industrial pollution alone.[i] The most prolific killers include mining operations, the oil industry and metal production, which are all represented at the Games. A report by the Blacksmith Institute found that over 7 million lives were at risk from mining and ore processing, nearly 5 million from metal smelting, almost 3 million from heavy industry (metal casting, rolling, stamping) and just under 2 million from petrochemical industries.[ii] These sponsors of the Games are alongside companies not taking their responsibility for chemical disasters, who are involved in torture, illegal arms and weapons manufacturing .


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