Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary Memorandum submitted by Sport England


  1.1  Sport England submitted its main evidence to the Select Committee's inquiry into the National Athletics Stadium at Picketts Lock in the first week of October. This second submission provides the Committee with an update of events following the recent decision of the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport that the Government could no longer support Picketts Lock as a venue for a National Athletics Centre to host the World Athletics Championships in 2005.


  2.1  As our previous submission explained, Sport England's Council and Lottery Panel had not been able to approve an application it had received for lottery funding from a consortium comprising UK Athletics, the London Borough of Enfield and Lee Valley Regional Park to build a National Athletics Stadium at Picketts Lock. The application did not address many of our standard criteria against which all lottery applications are assessed, including eligibility, viability, value for money and legacy for sport.

  2.2  With the support of the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, we commissioned an independent report into the Picketts Lock project by Patrick Carter. This report considered the additional support Picketts Lock would require from the Government were it to become a viable venue for a World Athletics Championships in 2005, it also considered alternative options for staging the Championships should Picketts Lock prove an unsustainable option.

  2.3  On 4 October, following consultation with relevant parties, the Secretary of State announced that after careful consideration of Patrick Carter's report, the Government had concluded that it could not justifiably provide the additional financial support the Picketts Lock proposals required.

  2.4  Sport England endorses this view and our Chairman issued the following statement with regard to the application for lottery funding we had received to build a National Athletics Centre at Picketts Lock:

    "Sport England has tried hard to make this project work, which is why we provided funding towards feasibility studies and the independent report into outstanding issues raised in the assessment of the lottery application. Unfortunately some key questions and gaps in the application have not been able to be bridged. Following the Government's decision that it is unable to provide additional support for the project at Picketts Lock, we will not be able to approve the application for funding. I pay tribute to the hard work of Lee Valley Regional Park Authority and UK Athletics on the project, but Sport England has a duty to use its lottery fund in the best way, and to assess all our applications against standard criteria of long term viability, value for money, legacy for the community and satisfactory business plans. Unfortunately, the applicants could not assure ourselves or Patrick Carter that the Picketts Lock project was sustainable."

    Trevor Brooking, Chair—Sport England, 4 October 2001


  3.1  The Secretary of State has proposed to the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) that Sheffield replace Picketts Lock as the venue for the World Athletics Championships in 2005. This decision was based on the evaluation work Patrick Carter had undertaken to establish the location that would best be able to provide a good value and good quality home for the Championships.

  3.2  The Government considers Sheffield a more viable option as major issues faced at Picketts Lock such as planning consent, athletes' accommodation and transport are already in place. As an existing stadium, the costs of upgrading the Don Valley to world class status would be considerably less than those for a new build stadium.

  3.3  Sport England has maintained its support for efforts to host the World Athletics Championships in England. We have continued to earmark within our lottery fund a budget allocation that will be made available towards a viable application to construct facilities for a World Athletics Championships in Sheffield.

  3.4  The IAAF has announced that, due to its constitution, it cannot automatically relocate the Championships from London to Sheffield. It will now have to re-open the bidding process which will take place at the end of November. The IAAF has stated that if Sheffield wishes to host the World Athletics Championships, it will have to re-enter the bidding process against other Cities. The formal decision to bid is one for UK Athletics, with support from Sheffield City Council and the Government. Sport England has made it clear that it will continue to offer support to the costs of staging the Championships, should they be held at Sheffield.


  4.1  It has long been the strategy of UK Athletics that hosting a successful World Athletics Championships only be undertaken as a means to the end of creating a lasting legacy for the sport. That is why the proposal at Picketts Lock was based upon establishing a legacy stadium for athletics as well as a high performance centre.

  4.2  In light of the decision with regard to Picketts Lock, Sport England has already begun discussions with UK Athletics and the Government to consider the long term strategy the sport wishes to develop and of the appropriate support we can offer towards this.

15 October 2001

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