Memorandum submitted by the London Borough
1.1 The London Borough of Enfield welcomes
the opportunity to submit further evidence to the Culture, Media
and Sport Committee to assist its investigation of the staging
of international sporting events. Enfield Council regrets the
government's decision to cancel the project since, as stated in
previous evidence, the council believes that staging the 2005
world athletics championships in a new purpose-built stadium would
be a significant boost to the regeneration of a severely deprived
area of London. Contrary to the Carter report the council believes
that a successful championships could have been held at Picketts
Lock and that the stadium project was, and still is, viable having
outline planning permission approved by the local planning authority
and every expectation that approval would be given by the Mayor
of London as the strategic planning authority for London.
1.2 Enfield Council has always understood
that this was a project of national importance which, with other
local partners such as the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority,
neighbouring local authorities, and UK Athletics, it was helping
to facilitate on behalf of government. Therefore although the
council has fully delivered on its commitment to the project it
recognises the right of the government to cancel the project in
the context of its assessment that circumstances have changed.
However, the government should, in turn, recognise the considerable
effort put into this project by Enfield Council, largely on the
basis of the personal backing from the Secretary of State for
Culture and the Prime Minister. Enfield Council was never a "bidder"
for this project. The council is a supporter of the government's
policy and aspiration to hold major events in the UK and therefore,
in relation to Picketts Lock, viewed itself as a facilitator to
assist government in delivering its aspiration. Clearly, the council
recognised the opportunity to regenerate the local sub-region
but it was largely on the basis of unambiguous government support
for Picketts Lock that it was prepared to expend large amounts
of its time, energy and finance with other partners to deliver
1.3 The government should not underestimate
the adverse effect of this decision on the local area and the
hopeful expectation that the government will support future attempts
to secure the social and economic regeneration of the Upper Lee
1.4 In an attempt to draw conclusions which
may be helpful for future projects the council wishes to suggest
the following as lessons to be learned from its involvement with
the project over the past 18 months.
2.1 In April 2000 the United Kingdom's bid
to host the 2005 World Athletics Championships was presented to
the IAAF Council in Paris the bid team was led by government together
with the governing body for the sport, UK Athletics. The experience
in other countries is that the bid team is led by the host city
together with the sports governing body. Through an accident of
timing the host city, London, could not be properly represented
since the GLA was not formed until May 2000, a month after the
selection. Whether government expected the GLA to take on the
lead role as the host city for the staging of the world championships
was never clear. Neither government nor the GLA has signed the
event agreement. It was suggested that UK Sport should do this
although exactly how this organisation would be able to co-ordinate
key elements such as transport was never made clear. The GLA and
Transport for London as its strategic transport authority, would
have been ideally placed to take a more leading role.
2.2 Other members of the bidding team, Lee
Valley Regional Park Authority and Middlesex University, had specific
roles which were part of the total project of staging the world
championships: to provide a venue for the championships and accommodation
for the athletes. Neither organisation had either the remit, the
capacity or the strategic authority to deliver the complete project.
2.3 Clearly, in preparation for staging
the world's third largest sporting event in one of the world's
great cities transport would always be an issue. The upgrade of
the rail connection to Picketts Lock which, in common with the
university accommodation, had been programmed for the area in
advance of the world championships bid in 2000. These were not
items of additional expenditure required by the Picketts Lock
2.4 One of the reasons the Picketts Lock
site had been selected was on the basis that it was within an
existing regeneration area where there were existing strategies
and programmes (the area has European Union Objective 2 status
and had secured funding from this programme for the project) that
complemented the proposals for a stadium.
2.5 Despite the absence of an accountable
body taking responsibility considerable progress was made to deliver
the 2005 World Athletics Championships for the nation. At a local
level the partners set up a Lee Valley "Stakeholder Board"
chaired by Peter Lyne a senior vice president of Nortel Networks
to bring together those public and private sector organisations
which could help deliver the 2005 championships. However, in the
absence of clear leadership at the regional or national level,
or a direct mandate from government this grouping could only seek
to persuade rather than provide the authority and direction such
a large project requires.
2.6 It is the opinion of Enfield Council
that with clear leadership the core projectstaging the
2005 World Athletics Championshipscould have been delivered.
Those elements which were identified within the Carter report
as being uncertain, principally transport and accommodation, were
essentially issues of prioritisation rather than funding which
has been suggested. The programme of rail improvements to the
Lee Valley line (known as the West Anglia Route Modernisation)
has already commenced and further enhancements, that could have
been implemented with the right commitment of all parties, could
have increased the capacity of the line.
2.7 However, in the final assessment the
proposed transport strategy for 2005 did not require additional
rail capacity, although the legacy would have benefited from the
enhancements when completed. This strategy was accepted by the
local planning authority and by the GLA. It was also made clear
to the Carter review team that the timing of sessions during the
World championships could be arranged to avoid the peak travel
periods. Although it is believed that with sufficient political
will the WARM project, which has an existing funding commitment,
could have been delivered this was not viewed as essential for
2005. Similarly, delays in the university accommodation project,
which the council understands are principally concerned with site
assembly issues can, and will, be solved at some point. How much
more rapidly with strategic leadership at national and/or London
levels was a question not posed by the Carter review.
3. ROLE OF
3.1 The role of Sport England in relation
to Picketts Lock has been difficult for the organisation itself
which has had consequences for the overall project. It has always
been clear that key figures within Sport England opposed the Picketts
Lock project in principle. Enfield Council understands that this
opposition stems from a belief that Picketts Lock was unnecessary
on the basis that the "platform solution" proposed for
Wembley would have worked for a world athletics championships.
3.2 However, the decision to stage the 2005
World Championships was the decision of an elected government.
It is therefore disappointing that Sport England did not approach
the project with the same sense of urgency and commitment applied
by Enfield Council, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority and UK
Athletics whose exemplary efforts toward delivering the government's
policy should not go unnoticed.
3.3 In addition, faced with a projected
fall in revenue for the sports lottery, Sport England has grown
increasingly concerned that Picketts Lock would draw in unjustifiably
large amounts of lottery money: money which might otherwise be
used to support more "grass-roots" sports development.
3.4 To some extent this is a tension at
the heart of sports provision in Britain: whether to fund landmark
projects to demonstrate the nation's capabilities at a world level
or to provide support at a community level.
3.5 In the opinion of the council this is
a false dichotomy as other countries, notably France and Australia,
have shown. Picketts Lock stadium could have been used to demonstrate
that landmark projects which are properly rooted within a local
structure with the necessary development capacity can provide
real benefits at all levels. In addition there is a large body
of evidence to show that high profile events are a major boost
to "grass roots" participation. Athletics in the United
Kingdom has a very broad base and is one of the most accessible
sports for those groups which tend to be excluded from society.
This, combined with the sport's innovative approach to sports
development, were significant reasons behind Enfield Council wishing
to work with the sport.
3.6 Taking this argument one step further
Enfield Council has always viewed the stadium project as an important
catalyst for regeneration of a deprived area. This is very much
in line with current government policy of using sport to provide
social and economic regeneration of a local area, a view confirmed
by the current Minister for Sport when, in a meeting with Enfield
Council, Lee Valley and UK Athletics, he specifically requested
evidence of the regenerative benefit of Picketts Lock.
3.7 Unfortunately, neither Sport England
nor the Carter review team seemed prepared to accept this approach
as justification for the new stadium, even in part. Sport England
claimed that this was not the purpose of lottery funding. Mr Carter,
despite "buying completely the regeneration argument"
and declaring it to be a thoroughly good thing for the Lee Valley,
could not consider it as an issue since it was outside his terms
of reference for the review.
3.8 There seems to be strong evidence that
both Sport England and Patrick Carter were either not prepared
or not allowed to see the "wider picture". It is difficult
to see how any major sport project can be justified on the basis
of the sporting interest alone. At a policy level government appears
to accept the wider social and economic benefits of sport although
this does not seem to have been included in its assessment of
3.9 This issue also touches upon the "white
elephant" criticism of the Picketts Lock project. It has
been recognised for some time by professional football clubs that
in order to build a sustainable business their "off pitch"
commercial activities should provide sufficient profit to mitigate
the uncertainties of the team on the pitch. Recognising that athletics
is a sport of high participation but low income the Picketts Lock
project was always geared toward developing income "off pitch"
through commercial activities located in the undercroft of the
stands. This point was always understood by a wide range of strategic
bodies including the Association of London Government, London
Tourist Board, Government Office for London. Unfortunately neither
Sport England, Patrick Carter or government seem to have been
3.10 As the principal funding body Sport
England had considerable influence over the project although little
direct involvement in the project's management, instead using
grant conditions as the main way of exercising control. While
this approach is consistent with other sports lottery projects
is is not appropriate for such a large complex project with a
number of uncertainties. For the 2005 World Championships there
were, in effect, three separate lottery funds involved: for the
main stadium, the high performance centre and for the event. Add
to this the complex cocktail of mainly public sector funding required
to deliver the various elements of the championships then the
project becomes overly complex.
3.11 In addition to the requirement for
co-ordinated leadership of the project Enfield Council also believes
that funding for the project should have been routed through a
single accountable body to ensure that the organisation responsible
for delivering the whole project also held the budgets for the
4.1 The Picketts Lock project was characterised
by a series of reviews. Essentially the concept was born from
a review of Wembley in December 1999, was stalled in December
2000 awaiting the outcome of a further review of Wembley and was
finally killed off as a result of the Carter review in August
2001. Despite various delays those charged with delivering the
stadium: Lee Valley, UK Athletics and Enfield Council maintained
and sustained the project almost exactly to timetable.
4.2 However, while the council, as a responsible
public body, acknowledges the need for regular scrutiny to ensure
that public money is being properly spent, confidence in the project
was inevitably undermined. This was especially damaging in limiting
the prospects for private sector involvement which was actually
much stronger than suggested by Patrick Carter. The evidence used
in the Carter report was based on a study by Ernst and Young completed
less than four months into the project and which took an acknowledged
pessimistic view of income generation. As the project appeared
more certain (March 2001 onward) a number of private sector companies
expressed strong interest in the project.
4.3 The review by Patrick Carter was conducted
with integrity, meetings were properly conducted and, unusually
for this project, there were no leaks or "off the record"
briefings to the press. However, inevitably for a report carried
out in such a short time, there were numerous errors of fact and
assumptions made with little evidence presented to support them.
For example the review concludes that the proposed transport solution
would not work for the world championships. This conclusion appears
to be based on the evidence of a letter from the Strategic Rail
Authority which sets out the carrying capacity of the line during
peak times. The review appears to ignore the combined evidence
of the Enfield and the GLA planning officers, evidence by the
London 2005 organisers stating that event programming could be
timed to avoid peak travel times and the transport strategy within
the planning application which is based on workable solutions
at other major stadia. Mr Carter appeared to have a prejudice
against "park and ride" and other "patchwork solutions"
as he described them preferring instead significantly more parking
at the site. The park and ride solution is one that is well established
at a number of major stadia in Britain and interestingly underpinned
the 2001 Championships in Edmonton, where there was no on site
4.4 It is not the purpose of this evidence
to respond in detail to the Carter review. However, there are
lessons to be learned. Bringing in an "outsider" to
have a fresh look at a project is generally a good idea provided
that person is conversant with current government policies, in
this case those related to planning and transport, and understands
their implications. Otherwise the review is judging its subject
by different standards which a project could not deliver.
4.5 The need for speed and confidentiality
in these processes is understood but these have to be weighed
against the requirement for accuracy and balance. Despite numerous
requests to Sport England and Cabinet Office officials none of
the partners was shown a copy of the review until the day the
decision on Picketts Lock was announced. Therefore the report
could not be challenged for its factual content, basis and validity
of assumption or its conclusion. It is difficult to see how ministers
can make a balanced judgement in this way.
4.6 Enfield Council is also very disappointed
that, along with the other partners, it has expended enormous
amounts of officer time, at the expense of other projects that
were equally relevant to local people, and was not given the opportunity
to comment on the report before it was given to ministers. Given
that the council was a facilitator of the project, as distinct
from a "bidder" the government may wish to consider
reimbursing the council for its direct costs.
5.1 Enfield Council remains convinced that
a successful World Athletics Championships could have been staged
at Picketts Lock in 2005 and was happy to work with government
and other partners to achieve this. The council accepts the government's
right to review the project and in the light of changing priorities
to cancel the project.
5.2 The council is of the belief that without
the leadership and co-ordination at the national or at city level
a project as complex as the World Athletics Championships could
not be delivered.
5.3 Whether this leadership is provided
through a government minister, an official or a specially appointed
project "champion" is not important provided that person
has access to the key decision makers and delegated authority
from them. It is also important that funding is routed through
this same person so that authority and budget holding are held
within the same organisation.
5.4 Consideration of the benefits of large
sporting projects must include the social and economic regeneration
effect on the local area, London and to the UK as a whole. This
test should be included in any assessment of large lottery grants
and the grant conditions should be amended to ensure that the
benefits are delivered.
5.5 Enfield Council invites the DCMS committee
to recommend to central government that it should cover the direct
costs incurred by the council in support of this government project.
18 October 2001