Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1
TUESDAY 16 OCTOBER 2001
Chairman: Gentlemen, I would like to
welcome you to this first public session of this Select Committee
in the new Parliament. I am very grateful to you for coming and
coming at such short notice. Could I explain that for those who
expected to see Tessa Jowell here today, the Prime Minister has
given Tessa Jowell, as you perhaps know, the responsibility for
helping the families of British people who were killed in the
attack on the World Trade Centre and she has had to go to New
York to carry out that responsibility. But she is coming here
next week. Could I also say this: this is a long-running saga
and I think it is accurate to say that if only the Government
had listened to this Select Committee, we would not be in this
pickle now about where to stage the World Athletics Championships
and whether, and if so where, there is to be a national stadium.
It is possible of course that Sheffield may benefit from this
particular situation and we are very grateful to you for being
1. Can I ask, first of all, what makes you think
that the IAAF would consider a bid from Sheffield and what estimate
of the percentage of the chance of it being successful or otherwise
you may have made.
(Mr Kerslake) The reason why we think
they should seriously consider Sheffield is that we have excellent
facilities in Sheffield to hold the championships. We have the
experience of a long track record of running events: over 400
international and national events in the last decade or so. We
have the infrastructure in the city: transport and other infrastructure.
We can provide the bed spaces, the hotels, the entertainmentall
the things that would go with making a successful championship.
We are absolutely committed as a city to making it work. In fact
the only thing we cannot offer to the IAAF is that we are not
a capital city. That is the only thing we feel we cannot offer.
What we would say to the IAAF is, "Look at Sheffield seriously.
It can host an excellent championships." If you look at the
track record of the championships of course, by 2005 only two
of these last six will have been in capital cities. Other cities
that have hosted the championships have been comparable in size
and structure to Sheffield. So we know we can do the job. I think
the issue in terms of your second question is: I cannot calculate
that; that is only something that those who are involved in the
IAAF will calculate. What we can say is, "Come and look at
Sheffield because we have a great deal to offer for these championships."
2. The point I was really driving at is that,
given what has happened with the current bid it is reasonable
to suppose that the IAAF might not look favourably on the UK at
all in the new bid process. Consequently, it would be wise for
you to have made some estimate of the likelihood of the bid even
being allowed to be entertained, before committing to what will
obviously be a fair amount of expenditure for the city. I wondered
what estimate you have made of that, if any.
(Mr Kerslake) I do not believe we have
committed any significant sums of money at this stage other than
to prepare a proposal (which is the time and effort and expertise
of staff within the city). I just do not think it is helpful for
the city to try and speculate on the decisions of the IAAF really.
I think they have to make their own decisions now. I can understand
why they must be disappointed, having fixed on London, but, in
terms of their choices, that is a matter they have got to consider
and we just await the outcome of the decisions in November. But
we are not committing big sums. I think it would be misleading
to suggest that we are. We have made our pitch, we think it is
a good one, and we await the outcome of the decisions of the IAAF.
Chairman: Thank you. It may be that it
is something we ought to ask the minister, the Secretary of State,
when she comes. It is a bit baffling to me as to why the IAAF
insists on a capital city in this country when they certainly
did not in Canada.
3. Welcome. May I say that I know Bob Kerslake
well because he was chief executive of Hounslow, where my constituency
is. The first question I would like to ask you is this. Surely
there must be some bitter resentment in Sheffield over the debts
that I understand are still being paid from the Student Games.
How do you convince the people of Sheffield that it is a good
(Mr Kerslake) It has been a long-standing
issue, the debts, not so much from the games themselves but the
cost of providing the facilities. I think in many ways the city
wants to put that behind them now and there is all-party recognition
of that. Yes, they would like some support and help on it, but
in the end they want to move forward and put that long-standing
debate behind them really. I think the way people in Sheffield
see it is that we have these facilities, they are excellent facilities,
they are a national resource, if you like, and we would like some
recognition of their potential and the opportunity to host championships
like this and others. I think what people in Sheffield feel is:
"We've got them, let's make use of them". We really
would welcome some recognition by national sporting bodies of
what we have to offer.
4. You say that the Government will provide the
cash for it. Are you confident of that? Have you had a chance
to cost this out or are you just accepting that the Government
will cover whatever the costs are? What analysis have you done?
(Mr Kerslake) We have had at least a
couple of discussions with officials. We are very clear that the
capital costs will be covered, which we estimate to be in the
order of £20 million, and that the revenue costs of hosting
the games would be covered as well. That has been a clear understanding
from the officials involved and it has been really part and parcel
of us making our proposal. I have every confidence that those
costs will be covered and, indeed, we would not be participating
if that was not the case.
5. Finally, what has been the response of the
people of Sheffield that you have had, feedback so far, after
saying you intended to make a bid?
(Mr Kerslake) I guess the response that
there has been, really since the announcement and the subsequent
media coverage of that announcement, is a deal of frustration
about how people, particularly in London, see the major cities
outside of the south-east. We see them as tremendous resources
for this country and in many ways major opportunities to tackle
some of the regional imbalances that exist, and yet somehow or
other it is not seen that way in other places. I think that sense
of disappointment and frustration and lack of understanding of
the potential of Britain's major citiesnot just Sheffield,
but other cities as wellis something that frustrates and
disappoints us and you would not see in other parts of Europe.
6. Could I just follow up the line of questioning
that Mr Keen has embarked upon. You have had, I think it is fair
to say, a dismaying experience with the World Student Games. The
Government has, I believe rightly, but some people might also
add generously, given financial support to the Commonwealth Games
that are going to take place next year in Manchester. One of the
things I would like to know is, let us just assume that the IAAF
decides that Sheffield is a suitable venue, would you then be
coming forward with what some people might describe as a begging
bowl to the Government, asking for financial support for the staging
of the World Athletics Championships were they to take place in
(Mr Kerslake) I think, to be clear, it
would not be a begging bowl. It has been a clear basis on which
we were invited to put forward Sheffield that the costs, the revenue
costs of running the championships, would be covered by the UK
Government. That has been a clear understanding. The same would
have applied for Manchester; the same would have applied for Picketts
Lock. The issue that we have been asked about is: Will we cover
any consequential costs from enhancing the facilities? And the
clear answer to that is yes. I think in many ways the issue is
the same for Sheffield as it is for Manchester, or indeed would
have been for Picketts Lock: the capital costs would be covered
through Lottery funds and the revenue costs by the UK Government,
and what the city provides is the backing and support and the
facilities it has already.
7. How would revenue costs be defined? What expenditure
headings would they include?
Because, as you knowyou would know probably
better than anybodystaging these events is not simply a
matter of covering the costs of staging the actual events; there
are all kinds of ancillary costs, which can be extremely heavy.
(Mr Kerslake) Perhaps I had better hand that over
to Steve, who has been involved in the costings.
(Mr Brailey) We provided a detailed schedule of costs
to Patrick Carter's review team which totalled £20 million.
Those were costs which we, without being party to an IAAF specification,
believed would be the capital costs of running the facility development.
In meetings with Patrick Carter's review team we did talk about
a number of items of expenditure which could either fit into the
revenue or the capital cost category, but the £20 million
we agreed was the final figure for capital costs. All the other
expenditure will be met out of revenue costs.
(Mr Kerslake) All I would say is that the Carter report
talks about a figure of something like £35 million for the
revenue costs of this, and we are absolutely convinced that we
could do it for less than that in Sheffield.
8. I really want to pursue the same line of questioning.
You have spoken about the excellent facilities at Don Valley and
elsewhereand in fact I remember, when I was on the committee
some while back, we visited itbut perhaps you could say
in a little bit more detail what sort of capital expenditureyou
have talked about £20 millionwhat it would involve.
Do you need warm-up tracks? Is extra seating required? Does there
need to be movement of existing seating? How is that £20
millionif, indeed, it turns out to be £20 milliongoing
to be spent?
(Mr Kerslake) We are quite happy, if
it would be helpful, to provide a detailed breakdown of our calculation
of costs to the Committee. But if I run through the costs in very
summary terms that we are talking about, the main cost is in terms
of enhancing the seating capacity, which costs something like
9. What is the seating capacity now and what
would it be increased to?
(Mr Kerslake) The seating capacity on
this calculation would take you up to a figure of 38,000 seats
for spectators, of which 30,000 would be permanent and about 8,000
temporary. They are the rough figures we are talking about. We
could go higher than that if that was a requirement of the IAAF
but that is the calculation we have done. In addition to that
there would be resurfacing of the track; there would be temporary
facilities (such as toilets, etc); alteration/refurbishment to
car-parking space; a media centre (which would obviously be a
vital requirement); and some replacement of seating and other
related costs (a fairly small amount) and so on. I can provide
a full detailed list of these costs, but the main costs would
be around expanding capacity to meet the requirements, some basic
refurbishment of the facilities, and the temporary requirements
that come with hosting a championship. Otherwise the facilities
would be there already.
10. Can you say how many seats there were at
(Mr Kerslake) The figure, I think, was
43,000 from memory.
(Mr Brailey) I am not sure of the exact figure. I
think it was just over 50,000 but the average attendance was in
the region of 30,000.
11. You are aware, are you not, that the IAAF
may want to have in the order of 60,000 to 65,000 seats, and yet
you are planning, as you say, for 38,000 seats of which only 30,000
(Mr Brailey) Picketts Lock was due to
be 43,000. Our first proposal allowed for 43,000 seats.
12. You think that the IAAF now, who are asking
for 65,000 seats, are going to be satisfied with only 38,000?
(Mr Brailey) Well, they were satisfied
and accepted the Picketts Lock bid, which involved 43,000 seats.
13. But you have not even reached 43,000. You
are saying 38,000. And Picketts Lock, of course, is London, in
a capital city, which, as you quite rightly point out, has certain
more attractions, although that might not be so logical as maybe
it ought to be. 
(Mr Kerslake) I think we need to distinguish
the place from the facility. If we could just deal with the facilities
first. We calculate 38,000 based on our assessment of the requirements
that actually occurred in Edmonton, but if the IAAF came back
and said, "We want exactly the same number of spaces that
were being offered at Picketts Lock," which was 43,000, we
could readily get there. What we did was to calculate what we
thought was actually required on the basis of the previous experience.
Chairman: Could I intervene there because
you have raised a very important matter. I think it would be as
well for us here and now to ask the clerks to get us the figures
for the capacity at Edmonton, and it might be useful, in order
to see exactly what the IAAF are up to, to find out what were
the maximum attendances and what were the average attendances
at the World Athletics Championships, say, for the last four.
14. You mentioned the 43,000 at Picketts Lock
and this has obviously been a consideration. Have you assessed
how much extra money, capital, would be required if you were to
provide that 43,000 seating?
(Mr Brailey) £4.5 million to bring
it to 43,000 as opposed to 38,000.
15. So, roughly, you would be asking for £25
million from the Lottery if that were necessary.
(Mr Brailey) That is correct.
16. Have you had any discussions with the Lottery
boards to find out whether they would be willing to provide that
level of funding?
(Mr Brailey) No, we were not asked to
provide that. All we did was provide the relevant information
to the Patrick Carter review team.
(Mr Kerslake) And subsequently in the meetings with
officials from the DCMS and Sport England, so both the DCMS and
Sport England were aware of our calculations at the time. So as
not to lose the point: we estimated the requirement of 38,000
based on our knowledge of what had been required; if it is higher,
we can do it. I think that is the point.
17. Can I ask, if I may Chairman, one final question.
Although you were fairly specific in your introduction about the
cost of capital expenditure, you were a little more vague, if
you do not mind my saying, about the revenue costs. I wonder if
you could amplify that a little bit and also perhaps explain to
the Committee to what degree you would have agreement with governmentbecause
that is what you impliedthat the revenue costs will be
supported by the Government. You said, I believe, that you have
spoken with officials. By implication, that means you have not
spoken yet with ministers, but perhaps I am wrong.
(Mr Kerslake) You are quite correct to
say we have not spoken with ministers. Our dealings on this issue
have been through officials at this stage. In terms of the costs,
we can only go on the figures that were quoted in the Carter report
because clearly calculation of the detailed costs of staging the
games in Sheffield will be something that would have to be worked
up from here. The process of decision making, I think, has been
first of all to establish the feasibility of Picketts Lock. So
it was not a question of saying: "Either Sheffield or Picketts
Lock," the first question was: "Was Picketts Lock feasible?"
and, if there were concerns about that, then what were the alternatives.
Therefore, a lot more work would be required in terms of those
detailed costs for Sheffield. What I am absolutely clear about
is that there is a clear expectation from government to meet the
revenue costs and there is an indicative calculation in the Carter
report of some £35 million.
18. The decision is going to be madewe
are in mid Octoberalmost in a matter of weeks. You tell
us that you have assurances from officials of the department that
the Government will meet revenue costs, but, taking into account
that it will be a yes or a noand it might be a yesbefore
the end of this year, have you been able with clarity to define
what the revenue costs would be, so that you would not later on
have to say, "Oh, dear, we have found that there are some
more revenue costs and we are now asking the Government to deal
with those as well." Because one of the things that has worried
me throughout this and a number of other episodes on staging international
sporting events, is that originally calculated costs never seem
to be final costs, and once the Government has committed itself,
even Gordon Brown, with all his legendary prudence, then seems
obliged to dip into his kitty for money which he was never originally
expected to provide.
(Mr Kerslake) The officials to whom we
have spoken have focused particularly on getting the capital costs
calculation right and have said to us, basically, "We don't
want surprises on that," and therefore we have given them
a very clear calculation which we stand by and it includes contingencies
and so on. The revenue costs is something about which we are not
in a position to say with absolute certainty what that figure
is. That would be the honest answer to your question because the
detailed specification of what would be involved in that is something
that would still need to be worked out for Sheffield. The only
calculation that is available to us is what is in the Carter report.
That issue that you have raised there I think applies wherever
in this country the championships were held. I would submit that
the risks of higher costs are likely to be higher in London than
they are in Sheffield.
19. We have been assured that propriety was observed
within the department and that Mr Caborn absented himself when
the proposed venue was decided upon. It has now been decided uponwhether
it will be accepted by the international athletics people is a
different matterand there you are and Sheffield is the
chosen venue of the Government and Mr Caborn is Minister of Sport
and Member of Parliament for Sheffield. Does it concern you that,
were it to go ahead, both you and he might be placed in an invidious
position; namely, that he might feel the need to bend over backwards
and not to be seen to be favouring you, or, on the other hand,
that he might very, very understandably be very, very receptive
to your approaches? I make no bones about the fact that with regard
to the Commonwealth Games I pressed the Manchester case extremely
strongly with ministers all along the way, but then I am in the
happy position of being irresponsible and Mr Caborn is not.
(Mr Kerslake) First of all, to put it
beyond doubt, the Minister has not been involved in the process
and has stayed out of it and we have been very clear about the
independent nature of the Carter review and decisions thereon.
I think on the second point you raise, the Minister is obviously
in his constituency role a great champion of the city, but we
would expect no favours whatsoever in the process of holding the
championships. We would expect the same treatment as would be
given to any city, including the position for Manchester, and
we recognise that because of the Minister's particular role he
would not be in a position to bat on our behalf in these circumstances.
So we go into the process knowing that that is the case, that
we would have to make our own arguments in this situation.
1 Edmondton 2001 World Championships in Athletics:
Maximum stadium capacity: 60,000 (varying
during the Championships on a daily basis due to different configurations
required due to fit-out needs, photo-positions, athletes' seating,
VIP seating, television camera positions etc. Average event-day
capacity was 45,000 with seating for 55,000 for the Opening and
Closing Ceremonies. Attendance was as follows:
|Day One (Opening Ceremonies and Men's Marathon)
|Day Ten (Finals and Closing Ceremonies)
|Total over 10 days