Sunday, September 09, 2007

More bad news on the London Olympics

On Thursday night I picked up a copy of Writers' News at my writing group. The lead story runs:
Writers and arts organisations are protesting against proposals to slash Arts Council funding to help fund the 2012 Olympics.
Although hosting the event is undoubtedly a coup for the UK, an underestimation of the Games' eventual cost has led to the Chancellor of the Exchequer's decision to use National Lottery funds to plug the spending shortfall. As a result it has been proposed that the Arts Council England's Grants for the Arts budget be slashed by 35 per cent. This means that during the funding year 2007/8 only £54m will be awarded, down from £83m in the current financial year, with serious implications for small arts organisations.
More evidence, I feel, that the Liberal Democrats should have opposed the London Olympic bid and called for the original budget (variously put at £1.9bn or £2.4bn) to be put into community sports groups instead.

It seems that some people have been doing better out of the Olympics than the nations' writers. A Dispatches documentary on Channel 4 tomorrow night that some of the most prominent figures involved in the bid have been cashing in by claiming generous fees and salaries.

The most famous names to be mentioned will include Sebastian Coe, Princess Anne and Jonathan Edwards, but the big money has gone to less prominent figures. The Evening Standard claims:
The documentary reveals that Locog chief executive Paul Deighton, the man who commissioned the widely-derided 2012 logo, received £536,000 last year, including a £100,000 performance-related bonus.

A retired City financier, his personal fortune is estimated at more than £100million.

The Olympic Delivery Authority, in charge of building venues, paid £232,000 for the services of accountant David Leather, a partner at Ernst & Young, for 19 weeks' work last summer - equivalent to £2,440 a day.
And most shocking of all:
The documentary also accused the Government of covering up a report it commissioned from economist Dr Adam Blake of Nottingham University during the fight for the Games.

He found that, while London would benefit by £6billion, the rest of Britain would lose £4billion as money was sucked into the capital.

The report - which could have ruined London's chance - was buried until after the bid succeeded.


Jock Coats said...

Whilst I would join you in the queue to bash those who take half a million a year for performing what ought to be a voluntary service to my mind, we should not oppose it, just ensure that it could be financed more equitably - LVT. The capital costs of the infrastructure at least could be recouped several times over from the increases in land values around the sites.

Anonymous said...

people now have to work for free when they work on a public project? interesting idea, perhaps start by making that demand of Mr G brown and work downwards, would certainly save a lot of money