Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100 - 119)

THURSDAY 1 MARCH 2001

MR DAVID MOORCROFT OBE, MR LEN HATTON, MR TERRY COLTON, MR SHAUN DAWSON AND MR SIMON EVANS

  100. One of your feasibility studies has been produced which shows that you do not need a retractable roof which was in the original plan. That is now out, is it not?
  (Mr Dawson) If we could talk about the feasibility phase in more general terms, I think it is important to take a step back. This project began in May last year post the award of the World Championships to London in Paris in April last year. The early part of the exercise is detailed feasibility work in terms of the business planning side of things, the revenue costs, capital costs, looking at the programme, can we deliver this stadium, this centre, within the time period for 2005. All that early work had to take place between May and October last year. The conclusion was at that point that the site was available, it is single ownership land, it can provide the national athletics centre, the programme is in place, we can deliver for August 2005, and it can be in place comfortably before then for trial events to take place before the main event, and adopting a low-risk planning strategy to ensure that we can negotiate the planning process with minimal risk, so all of these issues had to be looked at in the early days. The period we are in now, between January and May, is very much getting into leading up to the planning application in May. We are due to submit the planning application to the London Borough of Enfield in May and we will be going out to public consultation in March/April. The work we are carrying out at the moment is very much getting into the design of the stadium, the environmental impact that will have, the transport studies are under way, and we are seeking to bridge that capital funding gap, as has been outlined already. We are very much addressing those detailed matters now but the objective is to submit the planning application in May and that will ensure that we are on track to deliver for 2005.

  101. I sincerely hope that you are right. Can I ask about the 2003 one. That is in place, is it not, we are okay with that?
  (Mr Colton) Yes, it is at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham. It already exists.

  102. So there are no problems at all there?
  (Mr Colton) I hope not.

  Chairman: We have had a "yes" and we have had a "no problem", that is pretty good going.

Mr Faber

  103. Can I begin by saying that the Secretary of State is not in a position to give you an assurance that Lottery money will be spent, it is not his job to do that. He sat in your chair three weeks ago waxing lyrical about the arm's length principle and then sought to justify how he is going to bend the arm's length principle in respect of Picketts Lock. While his political future may well depend on Picketts Lock, a future Secretary of State might not see things in quite the same way. You have used words like "notionally, assumed income, provisional" and the truth is that even the £60 million from Sport England a £40 million grant and £20 million from Wembley are far from guarantees. The £20 million is slipping already, it is already a year behind on the Secretary of State's own payment schedule. What are you doing to speed up that £20 million repayment? How advanced are your discussions with Sport England on the remaining £40 million?
  (Mr Moorcroft) Sir Rodney made a statement that was fairly clear, I believe, in terms of whether that £20 million was going to be repaid or not. I thought that was very clear and was a very useful statement.

  104. But it is late already which is bad news for you.
  (Mr Moorcroft) It is not required yet, which is not bad news for us. Our discussions with Sport England continue because Sport England are part of the process of determining whether this is a viable, sustainable project. Again, Sport England have the task of being involved in that process almost on a daily basis but, again, being sufficiently at arm's length so that they can judge it according to their remit, and that is very appropriate. Like any project of this magnitude there has to be a level of doubt because it has to be justified on that basis. In terms of the arm's length issue, again that is an issue for the Government. The Government made it very clear that they have a policy to attract major events to this country and major events can only be attracted to this country with Government support. That may or may not be in terms of how they can assist in terms of the Lottery process, it may or may not be to do with unlocking other forms of funding, but I do not think it is inappropriate at all that the Government play a lead role in terms of trying to attract events of this magnitude. I think the difficult thing is clarity. We have never been clear about those issues that the Government should be more directly involved with and those that should be left totally to the statutory bodies that act on our behalf. What we have now is an opportunity to say that certain events and certain projects, Wembley being one of them, the World Athletics Championships and Lee Valley, are projects that should be very much within the remit of the Secretary of State to have a much more hands-on involvement with.

  105. Has the event organisation agreement now been signed for Birmingham?
  (Mr Colton) No, and I think David referred to that earlier. We have responded to the agreement to the IAAF with a series of questions and we are still waiting for a response from them on that. As we have already said, the ISL situation must be having some effect on this but we anticipate perhaps some discussion taking place next week in Lisbon when we will be attending the World Indoor Championships there.

  106. And who will be signing the London agreement for 2005?
  (Mr Moorcroft) We have not heard it directly but apparently the GLA have said although they are very keen on the project and wish to be involved, because they are a strategic body without the funds, they are not in a position, unlike Birmingham who are very affluent, to be able to sign the agreement as yet. It clearly is part of the debate that the Secretary of State will lead in terms of what comforts are needed or which the appropriate body is to provide that signature.

  107. Mr Livingstone is pretty unequivocal in the papers this morning, he says that he has taken legal advice and that he will not sign it.
  (Mr Moorcroft) That was always our understanding, that as a strategic body they would find that difficult.

  108. Who will you look to to come in as a partner?
  (Mr Moorcroft) It has already been stated that the Secretary of State has accepted that he will take a lead role in that.

  109. You are saying that you have had a guarantee from the Secretary of State that he will act as an underwriter for the missing money?
  (Mr Moorcroft) No, what he said was he recognises his responsibility to help resolve that issue and we are comforted by that.

  110. You are?
  (Mr Moorcroft) Absolutely. We are also comforted by the—

  Chairman: That will be an interesting line of questioning for you when Mr Smith comes here and I will make sure that you have the opportunity, Mr Faber

Mr Faber

  111. Thank you, Chairman. Can I ask a little bit about the design of the stadium. As I understand it, it is to seat 43,000, is that correct, for 2005?
  (Mr Moorcroft) Yes.

  112. How much of that will be temporary seating?
  (Mr Moorcroft) The likely option at the moment is that 13,000 will be temporary seating.

  113. Will that be covered?
  (Mr Moorcroft) That is likely not to be covered, which is not unusual. Obviously the weather is a slightly different factor but in Sydney a considerable amount of the spectator provision was uncovered. The plan at the moment is that 13,000 will be temporary and exposed and then after the World Athletics Championships the roofing will be completed so that it is a totally enclosed stadium.

  114. Would that stadium then have the capacity to be increased to 80,000 for an East London Olympic bid?
  (Mr Moorcroft) No.

  115. So if there was to be an East London Olympic bid, what role would Picketts Lock play?
  (Mr Moorcroft) If it was an East London solution, within the corridor with the various stadia.

  116. What would take place there?
  (Mr Moorcroft) There are a number of different sports that could take place within a stadium of 20,000 or 30,000.

  117. Like?
  (Mr Moorcroft) Field sports.

  118. They are not usually held in the main Olympic stadium.
  (Mr Moorcroft) Equestrian could take place there. Football.

  119. Football as well? As I understand it Wembley has been asked to keep Wembley open for football.
  (Mr Moorcroft) There are a number of games that take place in an Olympic football tournament. It would be very appropriate for Wembley to be for the major games.


 
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