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


Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Department of Culture Media and Sport

  The Committee has asked for answers to a number of supplementary questions.

  1.   In evidence to us the Lee Valley Park Authority (LVRPA) describes the National Athletics Centre planned for Picketts Lock as a "Government-commissioned national project" for which the LVRPA was the vehicle. Do you accept this description?

  We accept that the Lee Valley National Athletics Centre project was initiated because of the Government's commitment to stage the 2005 World Athletics Championships. In recognition of the importance of staging the event, Sport England set aside £67 million in their budget whilst the Government allocated £8 million. Funding, in both cases was predicted on a viable project coming forward. Regrettably, as Patrick Carter's report points out, no viable project was likely to emerge.

  2.   Both LVRPA and Sport England refer to the former Secretary of State's statement to the Committee: "We are working very closely together with Sport England and with UK Athletics in ensuring that we can have a very good stadium in order to host the Games . . . I am confident that will happen because all the fundamentals are right . . . I am absolutely confident that we are properly on track". Do you accept that funding problems at Picketts Lock were not addressed in a timely manner because, at least in part, promises from the then Secretary of State clearly suggested that the Government would ensure that the funding gap, and other difficulties, would be bridged?

  We would not accept this. The Government made clear to the project team throughout the project that only a limited amount of public funding would be available and if project costs exceed the money available, that a range of other funding sources would need to be explored. Considerable efforts were made by the project team in this respect. The project team were unable to attract sufficient interest of third parties and it became inevitable that the funding gap could only be met by either Sport England or the Government.

  3.   As late as 3 August the Sports Minister is reported in the Evening Standard as reaffirming the Government's commitment to staging the World Championships in London 2005. He said "This is a commitment from the Prime Minister down and is not considered negotiable. We will meet all the deadlines set by the IAAF. . .". Can you reconcile these statements with the evidence from the Secretary of State referring to ministers' "alarm" over the state of the Picketts Lock project on taking office in June?

  The Minister for Sport was referring to the Manifesto Commitment to develop a first class athletics stadium to stage the 2005 World Athletics Championships. The Government believes it has kept the commitment by keeping the IAAF informed at all stages about the problems with the Picketts Lock project and by offering a robust alternative once it was clear that Picketts Lock was not sustainable.

  4.   LVRPA state: "For the entirety of its short 18 months life the NAC project was bedevilled by lack of confidence, continual uncertainty and endless negative press speculation. This negative climate was fed by the never-ending Wembley saga and the failure of Government to match supportive statements with a tangible commitment and effective leadership. As a consequence it proved impossible to obtain more than just interest from public and private sector organisations regarding funding and investment for the NAC project". On 3 August the Sports Minister is quoted as stating that "We are going to bring stability and confidence to the management and delivery of these events and in bringing that we will win more support from the private sector." (Evening Standard) How do you respond to the accusation of Lee Valley Regional Park Authority that the Government inaction and indecision prevented support for Picketts Lock from the private sector?

  The Government agrees with the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority that negative publicity about the project has been extremely corrosive. The government did all it could to create a positive environment for the project, and was consistent in its support and in its efforts to overcome the obstacles.

  5.   In February 2000, the then Secretary of state told the previous Committee: In relation to the 2005 athletics bid, it is a bid for London. That was the clear decision of UK Atheltics to proceed for a bid for London. (HC164, 1999-2000, Q367) In addition, as we have heard, the clear advice to you from UK Sport and UK Athletics was that Sheffield would not be acceptable to the IAAF as an alternative. Why did the Government offer Sheffield in the face of all this advice and its own previous understanding of the position?

  Patrick Carter's report revealed that the Picketts Lock project not viable. It also confirmed that there was no viable alternative in London that could be in place for 2005. The Government was fully aware of commitments given to the IAAF and of their strong preference for a London Championships but concluded that there was merit in asking the IAAF to switch the 2005 Championships to Sheffield, where existing facilities with some enhancements could provide everything necessary to stage a first class World Athletics Championship.

  6.   What discussions did the DCMS have with Sport England before offering the Sheffield alternative to the IAAF for the 2005 WCA?

  A number of discussions with Sport England took place before the decision to offer Sheffield was taken. On 4 September 2001 DCMS Officials asked Sport England to prepare a written assessment on the Carter report and examining the case for the alternative venues identified in the report. Sport England officials provide their assessment of the report by Patrick Carter on 14 September and concluded that Sheffield was the most straight forward of the alternative options.

  The Secretary of State met Trevor Brooking on 24 September to discuss the Lee Valley project. They agreed that the changes which have taken place since the time of the UK's bid, and identified in Patrick Carter's report, made it impossible for the Government to guarantee to the IAAF that it could deliver a World Athletics Championships at Picketts Lock of the quality and standard that the IAAF has a right to expect and the UK wants to deliver. They asked DCMS and Sport England officials to hold discussions with representatives of Manchester City Council and Sheffield City Council. These discussions took place between 24 September and 4 October. The Secretary of State and officials met a Sport England Council Member (in Trevor Brooking's absence) and officials to confirm the choice of Sheffield prior to the discussion with UK Athletics and the Lee Valley Project Team.

  7.   Our written evidence from UK Athletics, the BOA, UK Sport and Sport England is clear that the perception of the UK's commitment to sport has suffered a major blow and that future bids to host events have been jeopardized. What is the Government going to do to rebuild the UK's reputation and credibility?

  The UK has a very high reputation for staging international sporting events and we believe any implications arising from the decision to cancel the Picketts Lock project will be temporary. We are committed to staging an outstanding Commonwealth Games next year in Manchester and are confident that this will demonstrate our ability to host major sporting events. The World Indoor Athletics Championships in Birmingham in 2003 will offer us the chance to work closely with the IAAF. The Government is keen for British Sport to take an active role in international sporting bodies and will continue to press this with the various agencies and governing bodies in the coming months.

  8.   The Government memorandum states: "The Government is minded to invest some of the funds originally earmarked for the NAC's youth and community facilities for similar facilities in another development in the Lee Valley". What investment has been agreed for the Lee Valley site by Government and from what sources?

  The Government acknowledges that the cancellation of the Picketts Lock means there is a need to reassess redevelopment plans for the Lee Valley. The Government is therefore prepared to offer the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, in principle, and subject to receipt of satisfactory detailed proposals to commit up to £4 million from the Capital Modernisation Fund to a project or projects meeting the following criteria:

    —  focuses on children of primary school age as well as the wider community with initiatives to help access;

    —  has match funding of at least 50 per cent for the capital costs of the project;

    —  the local partners have in place a long-term package of revenue support.

  9.   What assessment has the Government made of the direct and indirect costs of not hosting the 2005 WCA?

  The only direct costs are the project development costs between May 2000 and September 2001. Total development costs are £2 million of which Sport England have spent £1.5 million; the Lee Valley Park Authority £0.5 million. We have made no assessment of potential indirect costs.

  10.   What are the terms of reference and the timetable for the Performance and Innovation Unit's review of major events policy announced by the Secretary of State on 23 October?

  The Government will make an announcement shortly about the terms of reference and the timetable for the Performance and Innovation Unit report.

31 October 2001

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