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


Memorandum submitted by Mr John Kingston

  I write to you, not as the MP for the constituency of Lichfield, but, as I understand, a member of the Commons Select Committee for Culture Media and Sport who are investigating the viability of the National Athletics Stadium and Centre at Picketts Lock, North London.

  May I briefly introduce myself as someone who has been involved in athletics for nearly 50 of his 57 years with a passion and obsession that is sometimes misunderstood by others.

  I believe that I may be able to make certain constructive observations and convey to you certain information which could assist you reach the best judgement possible about the viability and potential of "Picketts Lock".

  My personal interest is further enhanced because I live in the London Borough of Enfield although at the opposite end to the proposed development.

  I could, by mutual convenience, be available to show you and any of your fellow committee members the site and local environment.

  As a businessman, I have carefully considered the proposition of the centre and I do not consider the development economically viable.

  I understand that effectively, UK Athletics are seeking a 100 per cent capital investment and are not themselves making any capital contribution, though an arrangement has been set in place with the trustees of the "London Marathon" to cover the day to day running costs.

  For reasons I can submit, I consider that the main stadium would be grossly underused though the proposed secondary track and associated facilities could and would be adequately utilised.

  The main stadium would lie "fallow" during the winter period and for much of the summer, would be unused.

  However, if UK Athletics could work in partnership, not only with the London Borough of Enfield but other boroughs and other sporting organisations it might be possible for the main stadium to be commercially viable.

  No doubt you will address yourself to the current infrastructure of "Picketts Lock" and I would strongly recommend that due consideration and regard be given to the demolition of the existing buildings and the possibility of asbestos pollution.

  If UK Athletics were prepared to commit a substantial proportion of the development and running costs then it could be argued that the proposition was economically and commercially viable.

  However I consider that the best contribution that I can make to Athletics is to suggest and recommend the following two persons known to me who are actively involved in athletics and whose greater experience and knowledge might be of assistance to you.

  They are Mr Peter J Matthews. Peter is internationally known, not only as a highly respected statistician, journalist and announcer but also as the editor of International Athletics statistical handbook which is best compared to Cricket's "Wisden".

  I would further recommend and suggest Mr Keith H Davies. Mr Davies is a retired school teacher but more important of all he is the honorary chief technical officer for, and on behalf of, UK Athletics and whilst he is more closely associated with UKA he could, I believe, give you in depth information both about the national and international scene in respect of stadia and equipment. Specifically his honorary responsibility as the chief technical officer is to represent UKA both nationally and internationally in connection with the current laws and rules and both nationally and internationally to implement them in the constructions of new tracks and in respect of the organisation of national and international meetings both here and abroad to supervise stadium and equipment in compliance with the national and international rules.

  I hope that my correspondence will assist you and I await in early course your acknowledgement and response.

14 September 2001

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