Olympic legacy: ‘this is where they practised hammerthrow and I don't think it's benefited us very much’
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Tue, 12/02/2013 - 14:00.
Professor in Economics at Oxford and advisor to the European Commission Dieter Helm has added his voice to the Armitt/Labour argument that infrastructure projects should follow the ‘ODA/Olympics’model. Writing in the Financial Times on 1st February 2013 he said:
Delivering infrastructure at scale, on time and on budget is not rocket science. The Olympics showed the way to do it: there was a hard deadline, few losers and government money. What is needed is a set of clear system plans, planning procedures that compensate losers, and brutal honesty about what it is going to cost and who is going to pay. We must stop fretting about government accounting rules and tinkering with project lists and get on with it. Otherwise we will be left on the international sidelines.
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Mon, 11/02/2013 - 17:02.
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…
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Fri, 08/02/2013 - 04:05.
It's just another very small, very local Olympics legacy story about an Olympic bridge, a second Olympic bridge, across the Hackney Cut canal. The other, the first bridge crossed the canal from the Gainsborough Primary School in Hackney Wick and was used by school children to get to their playing fields at Arena Fields on the east side of the canal. That is it was until the ODA built over the playing fields and demolished the bridge. The plan was to build a new bridge which would rob residents of Wick Village, already suffering from the loss of the green space opposite their estate and the monstrous Media Centre erected in its place, of their canalside open space. That argument continues.
A little further south another Olympic bridge, the second bridge, impinges on another local community, the Eton Mission Rowing Club. The Club had already lost land to the Olympic Compulsory Purchase Order, for the construction of the bridge to allow access to the Olympic Park, making it harder to carry on its activities. Now the LLDC plans to make life even more difficult with plans to construct a lift next to the bridge, taking even more land belonging to the Club.
The Rowing Club has suffered rowing blight since 2005 with new rowers reluctant to join as a result of the uncertainty created by the threat of compulsory purchase and the loss of space to carry on its activities. Now, after one hundred and twenty-eight years of existence Eye on the Park recently reported the Club is warning it faces extinction at the present site if these latest plans are adopted.
"If they shorten the space we have to work in even more," Club secretary Tim Hinchliff said, "we’d be a club that couldn’t store and maintain an eight, and take it to regattas. Well that’s not a rowing club is it? They either have to change what they are doing with that bridge, or they have to move us somewhere else."
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Wed, 30/01/2013 - 03:44.
While they are trying to figure out what to do with their East London white elephant in Stratford the LLDC has 'ambitious' plans to get its hands on the summer athletics grand prix, usually held at that other place in South London, er Crystal Palace? So that's a two for the price of one legacy of white elephants then?
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Wed, 23/01/2013 - 14:16.
The lie of the 'Largest new park in Europe' has now become so well established that the Press regularly restates it and other Legacy myths even when the Olympic authorities don't use the term. Both the Evening Standard and the Huffington PostUK have informed their readers that the Olympic Park will be the 'largest new urban park for a century'. No attempt is made by these publications to distinguish between the different definitions of the Park, the Olympic Park as a whole, which includes the housing, stadiums and other facilities, and the park or green space. It is the latter space that the ODA and others have successfully sold as this illusory 'Largest new park in Europe' not the Olympic Park as a whole to which these journalists refer. Now the journalists just call it 'the largest new urban park for a century' - what, in the whole world?
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Tue, 22/01/2013 - 14:31.
London 2012 gets another award! In December the Estates Gazette presented the London Legacy Development Corporation with its Outstanding Contribution to Property award to celebrate 'the outstanding progress London has made in securing a lasting legacy'. Outstanding progress? We can’t even get into the Park!
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Thu, 10/01/2013 - 22:15.
The Guardian led the way recently with its poll claiming almost 80% of respondents thought the Olympics had cheered Britain up. Hardly surprising considering the constant repetition in the media of the wonders of the Games. In the summer at the height of the medal winning frenzy the Guardian’s poll at the time only found 55% thought the Games worthwhile. When considering whether the Olympics were worth the money the Grauniad relied on the Government’s faulty £9 billion price tag rather than the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee’s £11 billion or Sky Sports’ more radical up to £24 billion total. However, in other respects the poll had less comfort to offer. 61% considered Britain’s status in the world had diminished in 2012 while 51% thought Britain will still be stuck in a slump at the end of 2013.
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Wed, 09/01/2013 - 23:41.
No wonder people get confused about Stratford City, the Athletes’ Village, the Olympic Park and the Legacy. Earlier in the autumn we had the fiction from the Centre for Economic and Business Research of the 'highly rated' E20 postcode's Chobham Academy even though it hadn't yet opened. Recently the Academy opened its doors to children who wanted to apply. The Evening Standard told us the Chobham Academy is an Olympic Legacy, forgetting to mention that it's the community school described in the West Leyton part of the Stratford City project, created under a separate non-Olympic planning application and not an Olympic legacy. Another commentator, the recently launched London Olympic Park Watch, which describes itself as an 'independent...constructively critical observer', says the school is 'in the Olympic Park' which of course it isn't. Stratford City, where the Academy, like the Athletes’ Village, is situated, is not in the Olympic Park but on the Stratford Rail Lands, the large piece of land which includes the Westfield Shopping Centre.
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Sat, 05/01/2013 - 23:34.
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Sat, 15/12/2012 - 18:17.