Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 8

Memorandum submitted by London International Sport

  Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the latest inquiry on Staging International Sporting Events. I shall respond to all areas of the inquiry where London is affected and shall also address the changes brought about by the introduction of the Mayor and Greater London Authority.

1.  2005 WORLD ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS

  Following the decision by the Secretary of State at the end of 1999 to exclude athletics from the National Stadium at Wembley, we spent some time looking at possible alternatives. In particular, we concentrated on Hillingdon House Farm, Hackney Wick, Cricklewood and Picketts Lock.

  For some time Hillingdon House Farm seemed to be a viable alternative venue, given there was a derelict athletics track there. The Government Office for London had concerns about transport congestion in the area, but the main reason it did not succeed was that local authority members whose support was vital felt that it was too large a development for the area concerned and declined the opportunity.

  Cricklewood near the North Circular Road was a possibility, but access to the particular was too difficult and the cost of the land very high.

  Hackney Wick was strongly supported by a private developer. The timing of it, however, did not fit in easily with the developments within the Stratford railway lands and in 2005 the area may well have been more of a building site than the kind of venue one would require for a major Championship of this kind.

  Picketts Lock, on the other hand, generated significant support from the relevant authorities, especially Lee Valley Regional Park and Enfield. As a location it was potentially very helpful to an East London based Olympic Games bid and its impact in the area was expected to be regenerative. We support the decision made by the Secretary of State to choose Picketts Lock.

  Since the decision was made at the end of March, a significant amount of work has been carried out and progress made with the help of consultants in the assessment of the viability of the stadium. The principal areas to resolve are the business case covering capital and revenue, planning, transport and environment concerns. In many respects the most intractable was likely to be the revenue costs, but at this time they appear to have been resolved satisfactorily.

  As an area of Green Belt there are environmental and planning constraints and it is right that LVRPA are attempting as closely as possible to use the footprint of the current leisure centre. Only when the environmental impact assessment is completed and the planning application made will it be known whether they satisfy the relevant authorities, but the risks are being reduced.

  There are currently options in existence which would improve transport links to Picketts Lock. It is likely that the work necessary, which will probably include the upgrading of the rail line and opening a station at Picketts Lock will need to be brought forward. The capital costs are still to be resolved, but, contrary to press speculation, there is no reason why they should not be, through looking at the specification and devising ways to find alternative funds.

  A decision was made fairly early on that Picketts Lock was unlikely to be the principal Olympic stadium for athletics. This is sensible given its location. An Olympic stadium with a capacity of 80,000 plus needs to be much nearer a major hub of transport. The legacy of the stadium at Picketts Lock is as a home for athletics including a high performance centre, something London welcomes.

  We will continue to support the development of the stadium. The other issue in which we are engaged and is currently being addressed is the signing of the contract for the Championships with the IAAF.

2.  THE IMPACT OF THE 1999 CRICKET WORLD CUP

  We first contacted the organisers of the Cricket World Cup in 1996 during Euro '96. We explained to the organisers the importance of involving local authorities and others in the cities where the World Cup was taking place. In our view through this broader involvement a cricket development programme and a cultural events programme could have been undertaken to enhance the World Cup and increase its importance locally. Despite being told that the organisers would respond, this did not happen. We held further meetings from 1998, but it became clear that the organisers were not interested in working closely with local authorities and others who were willing to be engaged.

  We understand that a contract was signed with an organisation to promote cricket in schools, as part of the World Cup. We do not know the success or otherwise of this work. We are clear, however, that opportunities were lost for the World Cup to make a much stronger impact and create a more lasting legacy and that this is a lesson for future world events which we first learned during Euro '96. In our view though it cannot be for governing bodies alone to develop this work. It is something which we believe the Government itself through DCMS should support. So far, it is apparent, following a meeting held with DCMS officials a couple of years ago, that the Department does not consider it to be one of its responsibilities. Major sports events should leave a strong legacy. We do not seem very good in this country at using them to develop the sports concerned, or to commit to wider cultural activities which would add profile to the events and promote the cities/areas concerned.

3.  2006 FIFA WORLD CUP BID

  Unlike the experience with the organisers of the World Cup in cricket, the bidding team for the FIFA World Cup were keen to work with the cities. Following a proposal we made they convened meetings of the English cities potentially involved and asked them to draw up indicative cultural programmes to support the World Cup. The cities did this and the responses formed one part of the bid submission to FIFA.

  Throughout the contact we had with the bidding team, its members seemed to be very professional and competent. It seems however that the bid never really stood a chance given the circumstances of tacit support having apparently been given to the German bid. The bid itself seemed to be declared on the spur of the moment one day after Euro '96 opened. If that is indeed the case, it is not in our view a recommended approach to take. Any bid should be part of a strategy planned well in advance with pitfalls understood. For example, no discussion was had about a possible conflict between the World Cup bid for 2006 and an Olympic bid for 2008.

4.  WEMBLEY

  We were, as our previous submissions to the Select Committee had indicated, fairly involved in expressing concerns about the developments taking place at Wembley concerning athletics. We were not a party to the decision made to take away athletics from Wembley. In our view it was not going to be easy to resolve the requirements of athletics including a warm-up area when the controlling influence in the redevelopment of the stadium was the governing body of another sport.

  Since the decision has been made, we have had practically no involvement with the development of the stadium. The London Development Agency has continued co-ordinating the taskforce to look at the area around the stadium. This work is very important if the surroundings are going to live up to the expectations of the stadium itself.

5.  THE PROSPECTS FOR A BRITISH OLYMPIC BID

  We have been working for over three years with the British Olympic Association to develop an Olympic bid for London for 2012. We are shortly to make a submission to the Government of the work we have carried out so far.

  We have stated our view before about why we believe only London realistically stands a chance of success in bidding for the Olympics, something the British Olympic Association itself has accepted. We have assessed the potential of West London and East London based bids. The Mayor has declared his support in principle for an East London based Games.

  We have seen through Sydney what the impact can be of a successful Olympic Games. It has fundamentally changed the view Sydney has of itself and how the world experiences it. Its status as a major city has been secured. The Olympics there were very well planned and organised, supported strongly by the people and in the end the press. The atmosphere created was of a vibrant and dynamic city and this was helped by 47,000 well-trained and friendly volunteers. London cannot emulate Sydney in the physical structure of the Games, because London (like probably every other major city) does not have an area like Homebush at its heart. What London can do is to plan and prepare equally as well and to utilise the many strengths which the city does have. It is recognised that the Olympic Games would provide a real opportunity to renew and develop the infrastructure of London and to engage and involve its many diverse citizens. London has the potential to host a wonderful Olympic Games.

  It is clear that the competition for 2012 would be very strong, especially given the enthusiasm cities now have, following the success of Sydney. London ranks at least alongside New York and Tokyo as a World City. If it wants to retain its place against growing opposition, then it must be able to bid for and host successfully events like the Olympics. The prospects of winning against any city are good and we believe a bid should be made, unless 2008 is to be won by another European city. A prerequisite is for a London bid to be strongly supported by the Government at all levels, the private sector and London itself.

6.  THE MAYOR AND GREATER LONDON AUTHORITY

  The Greater London Authority was established in July this year and there is no doubt that strategically it is of great importance to the future of London. Although the Authority has few new resources at its disposal, it is, especially through the Mayor, a major influence on strategic developments in London.

  No bid for the Olympic Games for example could be made without the support of the Mayor and Authority. Various parts of the Authority and functional bodies to which it relates are important when it comes to major events. These include the London Development Agency, Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police Authority and the Policy Directorate within the GLA which among other things has responsibility for spatial development strategy.

  Under the Act setting up the Greater London Authority, the Mayor had to establish a Cultural Strategy Group. Appointments were made in July this year and they included a wide range of people from different parts of the cultural sector, including sport. Its role is to develop a cultural strategy and this it hopes to have completed by the end of 2001 after a major consultation process. It is also likely to stimulate or enhance some cultural events in London to support the strategy. London International Sport is working closely with the Cultural Strategy Group of which I am a member and, through the CSG and other bodies where appropriate, we would expect the Mayor and the Authority to become very involved in major developments such as the Lee Valley Stadium and an Olympics Games bid. The Deputy Mayor, for example, has already participated in meetings concerning Picketts Lock.

  We believe that the establishment of the Mayor and strategic Authority puts London in a stronger position to bid for and win major sports events. We look forward to working closely with the Authority in the years ahead.

7.  CONCLUSION

  Despite failures such as the 2006 World Cup bid and problems faced following successful bids, which always occur, we believe it is important for this country to continue to try to bring major sporting events here. They are potentially excellent showcases for the cities concerned, often help with regeneration, should develop the sports concerned at all levels and bring if successful considerable pride in the achievements.

  The Commonwealth Games in Manchester and World Athletics Championships in London are two major events which we should make the most of. The biggest prize is the Olympic Games and we think that London is an eminently suitable location for the Games to be held. It is important to be positive about our ability to host the Games. It would undoubtedly require good planning and appropriate streamlined structures.

  We have shared this response with the Greater London Authority which will also make a short submission of its own.

  We would also be willing to give oral evidence if that would be helpful to the Committee in addition to making further written statements if required.

December 2000


 
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