Examination of Witnesses (Questions 320
WEDNESDAY 14 MARCH 2001
(Mr Clegg) I think it would have to be. Quite frankly,
some of those sight lines were completely unacceptable and, as
I told you the last time I appeared in front of you, Wembley mocked
up for us in the old stadium some old seating and senior representatives
from DCMS, United Kingdom Sport and we were there and the sight
lines were totally unacceptable.
(Mr Luckes) It is worth pointing out, I think, that
the issue with sight lines was not what we felt was acceptable
or unacceptable but that Wembley Stadium was being designed according
to the guide of safety at sport grounds, the Green Guide, which
says, "Ensuring adequate sight lines is an important part
of providing safe seated accommodation", and the fact that
these would be temporary is no excuse for acceptance of lower
margins. What we were doing was drawing attention to the fact
that, for an Olympic Games, we felt that obviously there were
issues to do with sight lines and it was these we raised that
were accepted by Ellerbe Becket.
321. You seemed to find a more sympathetic ear
when there was a change of sports minister from Tony Banks to
Kate Hoey. Did you express all of these concerns to Tony Banks
and Chris Smith at the time?
(Mr Clegg) Absolutely. The chronology of events from
our perspective which we laid out for you in your last inquiry
is absolutely clear. You may recall that the first time we saw
the designs for the new national stadium was three days before
the launch and after a one hour presentation by the architects
we asked the rather simple question, "Where is the Olympic
dimension?", and it was quite obvious at that stage that
they had not factored that in. I wrote to the then Minister of
Sport on 27 July 1999, some two days before the launch, saying,
"As you are aware, for the last 18 months the British Olympic
Association has been consistently encouraging both Sport England
and your own Department to involve us in the development plans
and to satisfy the requirement for an 80,000 seater spectator
capacity stadium in a track and field configuration. It is now
obvious that, despite assurances to the contrary, at no stage
has this information been passed either to the National Stadium
Development Company or to their architects".
322. It seems to me pretty unsatisfactory that
we have a situation where Picketts Lock is not guaranteed on the
evidence that we heard last week. There does not appear to me
to be an absolute certainty that it will take place so there is
an issue about athletics generally. I am becoming rather concerned
that we are looking to attempt to make an Olympic bid at some
point without a clear idea about the strategy for facilities;
how they are going to be funded; and where they are going to be
placed. Do you feel that is an issue that the British Olympic
Association has come to terms with?
(Mr Clegg) No, I do not believe it is, because I do
not believe it is solely the British Olympic Association's decision.
I believe that those sorts of decisions need to be made in partnership
with the two other key stakeholders and that is why we have prepared
this piece of work to allow the stakeholders to decide whether
they want to become involved in the process which, at the end,
will determine whether we bid or not. We are a long way from that
and I think it would be arrogant and totally inappropriate for
the British Olympic Association solely to decide and make decisions
on those issues.
323. And do you think there is a very important
role for government to play in that?
(Mr Clegg) Absolutely critical.
324. Do you believe you are getting good Government
support at the moment?
(Mr Clegg) We received a very warm response to our
presentation to the Secretary of State and to the Minister on
1 February. I followed that up with a letter to the Secretary
of State inviting him to nominate the three partners that will
form the Government's representatives on the stakeholders' group
and I look forward to getting a response to that at the earliest
opportunity. Certainly we are hoping to have the first meeting
of the key stakeholders at the end of this month or at the very
beginning of next month at the very latest.
325. I sometimes wonder, taking into account
the groups of witnesses we had last week and the next group of
witnesses that we are going to have, who I am sure will give valuable
evidence to us, whether there is not just too great an agglomeration
of organisations with their fingers in this particular piesome
of them telling us one thing, some of them another, all of them
telling it to us in total good faithand if it were not
that I utterly deplore the phrase "joined-up Government"
I would say that joined-up Government appears to be the one element
we do not seem to have among the sporting authorities on this.
Could I make a point particularly on behalf of Mr Faber, who has
done a very great deal of work on this: that you referred to the
Ellerbe Becket report and in our specific report on Wembley Stadium
we found that report to be seriously flawed. May I make it clear
I am not critical of you or the next group of witnesses or the
witnesses we had last week, but I just wonder if there is an act
that is being got together.
(Mr Clegg) Chairman, is that question directed in
the context of an Olympic bid or the national stadium?
(Mr Clegg) In the context of an Olympic bid, I think
the Olympic charter is quite clear regarding where the ultimate
responsibility for putting together a bid lies, and we have made
it perfectly clear and have taken this issue very seriously. You
can see that from the quality of the report you have received
and the depths we have gone into to explore all of the different
issues. We have made it absolutely clear that the three key stakeholders
who will be fundamentaland I will ask Robert to comment
in a moment in terms of the contract of an Olympic bidare
ourselves, the Government and the GLA. In terms of Wembley and
the involvement of other organisations, as I said before the last
time we met, the British Olympic Association is not a technical
expert. We had some serious concerns regarding the sight lines
which were substantiated by the models that have been made out
at Wembley and I believe it was the Secretary of State who, through
his Minister, commissioned an independent technical report and
it was the findings of that report that was responsible for the
(Mr Datnow) Simply focusing on the British Olympic
Association's central role in the new bidding process, you will
recall that the International Olympic Committee in its reforms
in December 1999, the International Olympic Committee 2000 reform,
set out a new bidding procedure for the Olympic Games which is
pretty detailed. The difference between it and the previous procedure
is that it puts the British Olympic Association as the National
Olympic Committee right at the centre of the framework for bidding
for an Olympic Games, and the Committee in its Fourth Report specifically
said that if British bids are to succeed they have to operate
in the context of the decision-making frameworks established by
international sporting bodies. There are four contracts that the
British Olympic Association would need to sign with the host citythe
questionnaire for applicant cities; the undertaking; the candidate
bid document itself and also the host city contract, and the British
Olympic Association is required in that process not only to supervise
but also to be jointly responsible for the bidding process and
for the guarantees that are given in the bidding documents.
Chairman: It is very kind of you to amplify
the situation and I am grateful to you all as witnesses for coming
to see us. We have run a little over because we are so interested
in what you have to say. As we proceed in this inquiry I have
to say that I am more and more sympathetic with the views put
forward by Mr Maxton and others. Thank you very much indeed, gentlemen.