Monday, 24 December 2007

Concern deepens over cost of Commonwealth Pool revamp

From the Edinburgh Evening News:

Concern deepens over cost of Commonwealth Pool revamp

By Alan Roden
THE cost of a major refurbishment of the Royal Commonwealth Pool is set to soar above its £37 million estimate, officials have warned.


It is feared the project carries a major risk of "unexpected defects and problems that will be uncovered" as the scheme progresses, due to the complex nature of the A-listed building. Inflation in the building industry is also running high.Delays – caused partly by uncertainty over the future of Meadowbank Stadium – have led to costs rising by around £185,000 a month. The council has agreed to proceed with the pool revamp as a "priority", but part of the Meadowbank site is still likely to be sold to fill a £10.5m funding gap.The pool scheme involves a major overhaul, but is deemed more urgent than Meadowbank because Edinburgh is due to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games diving competition on Glasgow's behalf.

Council leaders said it would "take time" to redevelop the city's sports facilities following years of "under-investment" by Labour.But opposition councillors today claimed the administration was to blame.

Labour's culture and leisure spokesman, Paul Godzik, said: "The inability of this administration to show some leadership and take big decisions clearly has a cost. Financially, costs are rising daily due to the continual delay in getting these projects started, yet there could also be a cost in terms of the quality of sports facilities."While the Royal Commonwealth Pool project will go ahead, it is clear that the administration is looking to cut back on other facilities, and will not deliver the ambitious plans which were outlined by Labour that would have taken the city's sporting facilities into the 21st century." His Tory counterpart, Gordon Buchan, urged the administration to return to the original plans for a complete sell-off of Meadowbank, which would fund both the pool revamp and a new replacement sports facility at Sighthill.

"We won't know what we're facing until we start opening up the Royal Commonwealth Pool building," he said. "Construction inflation is also running at around six per cent. There are
major cost risks, and it is time the administration stops trying to fudge the issue and deals with what it can deliver – otherwise Glasgow will host the diving competition."In a report to councillors, council chief executive Tom Aitchison said there has been "general support" among residents for a refurbishment of the Royal Commonwealth Pool (RCP).

However he warned of "a substantial risk" that the construction costs could be "considerably higher than currently quoted".The city's sport leader, Deidre Brock, added: "The lack of investment and lack of care for Edinburgh's sporting venues under Labour for over two decades has left those venues in a state of incredible disrepair. That lack of concern for Edinburgh and for the precious assets of this city is why the voters turned against Labour in May. It's going to take a long time to put things right, but we've started."

Friday, 14 December 2007

"Building more urban motorways is not the future"

From the Herald:

Transport planning for Games is flawed

The recent correspondence about the M74 and Glasgow subway extension (Letters, December 12 and 13) for transport to the 2014 Commonwealth Games contrasts with London's approach to the 2012 Olympics.

The London Olympic Delivery Authority aims to encourage 100% of spectators to travel to the Olympics by public transport, walking and cycling.

Transport links will be transformed around Stratford, with extensions to the London Docklands Light Railway, a rebuilt East London line, and 140mph trains on High Speed Line 1.

In marked contrast, in Glasgow the M74 extension is described by James Kelly MSP as a "crucial part of the Commonwealth Games infrastructure". In fact, this urban motorway, a product of 1960s transport thinking, would choke the local roads around the Games venues with more traffic and parked cars, giving an international demonstration of how not to plan for major events.

Glasgow has the biggest rail network outside London. Most of the Games venues are near railway lines. Strathclyde Partnership for Transport has an excellent opportunity to re-establish Glasgow as the "dear green place" by providing new stations to serve the sporting locations. As discussed by your correspondents, the best way to serve Parkhead is by extending the Argyle Line and introducing a new fleet of high-performance urban Metro trains on a Dalmuir-Parkhead east/west route.

This would also serve the Scotstoun and SECC locations and connect at Glasgow Central with trains to Mount Florida for Hampden. The planned National Hockey Centre could also be served from the Argyle Line by reopening the station at Glasgow Green. The Ibrox and Kelvinhall venues are near subway stations.

In a city with a low level of car ownership and a poor health record, building more urban motorways is not the future.

The aim of politicians should be to ensure that the Common-wealth Games leave a lasting legacy of urban regeneration and sustainable transport.

Dr John McCormick, Chairman, Scottish Association for Public Transport, 11 Queens Crescent, Glasgow.

And Bill Forbes comments:

One flaw in the transport planning for the Commonwealth Games may be that we are only now appearing to address the issue.

The stated Games Budget is £298 million (SOURCE – Glasgow2014 web site ).

The “SPT has been told by consultants Grant Thornton that the new route to the east will cost between £60m to £120m . Those costs could soar , however, if there are any problems with the tunnels…” (SOURCE – The Herald 12/12/07 )

Another flaw may be that the SPT appear now to be taking a lead on the matter:


SPT chairman Alistair Watson today revealed: "We will deliver the East End extension for 2014. I am being unequivocal about that ." (SOURCE – Evening Times 12/11/07 )

Does anybody else get this uneasy feeling that we have another Partick Interchange in the offing?

Monday, 10 December 2007

London Olympics: "A robust baseline"

Not to worry - the costs of the London Olympics aren't really "rising", in fact they are "robust". While the original bid was put at over £2 billion, we now hear the costs will be more like £9 billion...or something like that. Don't worry - it all makes sense! And of course, there will be nothing like this sort of accounting confusion when it comes to Glasgow's Commonwealth Games!

From the BBC:


2012 Olympics budget 'on track'

The cost of hosting the Olympics has already risen dramatically.Olympics minister Tessa Jowell has said a "thorough assessment of all potential risks" has backed the £9.325bn budget for the games she outlined in March.
In a written statement to MPs Ms Jowell said "months of careful scrutiny have confirmed" the budget - four times the original estimate - would be enough.
She said: "The project has high levels of public support and is on track."
The statement came as the BBC learned a report to ministers said there was a 20% chance the budget would rise again.

"Now we look ahead to what will be a dramatic 2008, with the first building work starting on the Olympic Park site"
Tessa Jowell

Olympics minister

March: Budget hits £9.3bn
MPs attack Olympic costs
Send us your comments
Latest budget in detail

In November, the House of Commons public accounts committee attacked ministers over planning for the event, saying foreseeable costs had been "grossly underestimated".

Ms Jowell, who has faced widespread criticism over the escalating cost of the games, has now set out the most detailed breakdown of expected costs so far.

It shows that £500m of the contingency budget has already been allocated to the Olympic Development Agency.

Ms Jowell also said a "detailed account of progress across the Olympic programme" would be provided when the first Olympic annual report was produced in the New Year.

She said the delivery authority would also issue "a summary of the baseline scope, aligned budget, programme and risks".

'Obvious omission'

These figures "will provide a robust baseline for future reporting", she said.
Ms Jowell told MPs: "This statement shows... the budget is consistent with the funding package I outlined in March.


"Months of careful scrutiny have confirmed that the Olympic Delivery Authority has the money it needs to deliver the venues and infrastructure for a terrific summer of sport, as well as leaving a long-term legacy for one of the most deprived parts of the country.

HOW 2012 ESTIMATES HAVE CHANGED
2003: Consultants Arup put total cost of building and staging the Games at £1.796bn
2003: Tessa Jowell launches bid in May telling MPs it will cost £2.375bn - including a 50% contingency
2005: Bid succeeds in July with "prudent" estimate of preparing for games of £2.4bn
2006: Tessa Jowell says Olympic Park costs up to £3.3bn
2007: Olympic Park budget now at £5.3bn - including regeneration and infrastructure
2007: Total budget, including contingency, security and tax, reaches £9.35bn

(full article here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7135824.stm)

Sunday, 25 November 2007

"Cloud cuckoo land from the games bid"

City Strolls noticed this amazing bit of news (Glasgow car free? I'll be thinking of that next time I'm stuck on the bus in a traffic jam...):

Cloud cuckoo land from the games bid "Games car free " Why are the trying to build a dirty great motorway then? "Most of Glasgow's venues would be within 20 minutes of the athletes' village in the East end of the city. By 2014 the 500 million pound M74 extension, the Glasgow Airport rail link, and the 69 million pound East End regeneration route should be completed. More than 10,000 athletes, officials and journalists will travel in buses using dedicated “Games Lanes” where traffic lights will turn green to speed up journeys "

We Don't Back the Bid - Sign here

Sunday, 18 November 2007

The enforcers who will police the Games

A letter in the Glasgow Herald points out some interesting features of the Commonwealth Games Bill:

The enforcers who will police the 2014 Games

In June 2007, the draft Glasgow Commonwealth Games Bill was published, with responses to be sent to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games Bill office in Edinburgh. However, this draft (as far as I am aware) does not seem to have been circulated publicly in Glasgow - not even through the public library system. As the closing date for consultation responses was September 21, it seems we have had our consultation.

The full Glasgow Commonwealth Games Bill has now been tabled.

This remarkable document is intended to designate and regulate "Games offences". Outdoor trading and advertising will be banned in the vicinity of Games venues, unless authorised by the organising committee.

Interestingly, possession of a valid street trader's licence does not constitute authorisation to trade in terms of the Bill. In fact, Clause 7 expressly states: "It is not a defence for a person charged with a trading offence that the person has a trading licence whether granted before or after this section comes into force."

Similar restrictions apply to advertisers. Still, Clause 8(1) provides: "Councils must seek to work with existing street traders to try to identify alternative trading arrangements during the times when the trading offence applies." That's a less than cast-iron guarantee that licence-holders will not lose out.

According to Clause 21: "Games offences are to be enforced in accordance with this Act." In pursuance of which, the Bill provides (Clause 22) for the recruitment of inspectors of weights and measures as "enforcement officers". In exercising the General Enforcement Power laid out in Clause 23 (1), "an enforcement officer may take such reasonable steps as " (2) " may include seizing, concealing or destroying anything which the officer reasonably believes to be an infringing article".

Now, in my understanding, enforce is not equivalent to prevent. In fact, it generally means the reverse. Hence, if passed into law, this Bill will both give enforcement officers licence to commit "Games offences" and authorise them to grab, hide and/or destroy the evidence.

Worse, any have-a-go hero attempting to uphold the law will himself be committing an offence for, as Clause 32 explicitly provides: "It is an offence (a) intentionally to prevent or obstruct an enforcement officer from doing anything which the officer is authorised or entitled to do by virtue of this Act "

If Orwell were alive today, I think he would extend his satirical observation that "war is peace" to include the notion that "law is crime" and "crime is law".

Brian D Finch, 56 Fingal Street, Maryhill, Glasgow.

Halifax report: Consultants ate up millions

From the Nova Scotia Chronicle:

Commonwealth Games consultants ate up millions

$9.5 million went into $3.4-million bid

Almost all the money for a $3.4-million bid book that could never be delivered to the Commonwealth Games Federation in England covered consulting and professional fees, says an accounting report on Halifax’s defunct proposal to host the 2014 Games.

The expense is noted in an accounting review released Friday by the provincial government and Halifax Regional Municipality. The report says $9.5 million was spent putting together the proposal.

Canada’s bid for the event died in March when the municipality and province pulled their support because of the estimated $1.7-billion price tag for hosting the Games.

More than $2 million in bid money was spent on fees for such professionals as architects. Another $1 million went to consultants.

The bid book from Halifax was to be a detailed proposal presented to the federation in London in May. Last week, the 2014 Games were awarded to Glasgow, Scotland, which beat Abuja, Nigeria, in the competition for the sports spectacle.

People who opposed metro’s plan to stage the event complained the bid process was too secretive. (full article here)

Friday, 16 November 2007

News roundup

Some of the latest Commonwealth Games news:

Building.co.uk: Glasgow to set up Commonwealth ‘ODA’

Glasgow council searches for chief executive to manage the £500m construction programme for the 2014 Games

Glasgow council is preparing to set up a delivery vehicle similar to the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) to manage its £500m construction programme for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. (story continues at link)

Telegraph: Funds and Games

Gordon Brown congratulated the Scottish government as warmly as he could in the House of Commons yesterday for its role in helping to secure the 2014 Commonwealth Games for Glasgow.

However, Mr Brown may not be so quick with the pleasantries if Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, comes knocking on his door asking for money. (story continues at link)

Scotsman: Email victim Webb wants explanation

EDINBURGH hammer-thrower Shirley Webb has asked for a meeting with Scottish Athletics after being dumped by e-mail while working as an ambassador for Glasgow's Commonwealth Games bid. (story continues at link)

Any interesting stories? Drop us a line.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

"Massively underwhelmed"

From Michael Greenwell:

"The coverage of the reaction of the public to Glasgow winning the bid for the 2014 commonwealth games seemed to be coming from a different planet.

"The most common attitude I was getting from people was one of being massively underwhelmed[1] by the whole affair.

"What was absurd about it was that in workplaces all around the country arrangements were made to make sure the decision was broadcast immediately after it was made.

"In my own place of work there was a directive issued that all TVs had to be turned to the correct channel for the announcement. Similarly, bus and train stations had to make the announcement.

"What were they expecting1.jpg? Scenes of jubilation akin to VE day? People throwing each other in fountains and filling them with wine [tonic variety]?

"I took a look out to the canteen where the TVs are in my place of work just to see what happened.

"NOT ONE person even noticed. They all just carried on eating their lunch.

"This is not the picture painted by the BBC which went into its full voice of the nation mode as it told us about scenes of jubilation that absolutely no one I know saw, joined in with, or even really cared about.

"They showed the above picture, saying that 2000 schoolchildren were there celebrating. I am prepared to bet that they were taken there by their schools who in turn were invited to do it by the city council as a photo op and were probably happier about the day off than anything else.

"The plan is to use the games as an opportunity to regenerate the east end of Glasgow. Whilst this is a decent goal in and of itself the history of regenerating that area has not been a particularly succesful one and the ability of events of this kind to provide useful developments for a city is overhyped.

"Lets take a look at the history…

"After World War 2 many European cities followed a particular path of regeneration. This was a necessity after the bombing and havoc wreaked by the war.

"Roughly put, the inner cities were cleaned up and gentrified. Many excellent buildings that could have been saved were knocked down and the poorer people who lived in many of these places were moved out into newly built housing schemes on the outskirts of the cities in question. This happened in many places.

"However, once moved to the newly built places many problems became apparent. Although the housing was built, appropriate facilities were not. There was a lack of jobs and those who had work usually had to go into the cities to get to them. This should not have been such a problem apart from the fact that it also took a long time to put working public transport links into the new areas.

"Furthermore, the new houses were not well built and soon fell into disrepair - if you walk around Glasgow now you will find that the 100 year old buildings are doing fine and look good and the majority of the ones built in the 50s and 60s are derelict or just about to be.

"It is in many ways opposite to the model in the USA in that in Europe the inner part of the city tends to be the most looked after and is often extremely beautiful whereas a lot of the suburbs are in disrepair. In the USA it seems to be the suburbs doing well and the inner cities in disrepair.

"The strategy adopted after WWII is still at the roots of many of the social problems that Europe faces. Many people have been moved out of town, disenfranchised and left in substandard housing in an area with no facilities. If you want to look at the reasons for things like the Paris riots then this is one of your starting points.

"Is this, or something similar, going to happen again in the east end of Glasgow? I hope not, but we will have to wait and see. Many terrible, pointless and frankly stupid things have been done in the name of ‘development’.

"It is also very likely that a few people will make themselves a lot of money out of the games but the impact on the city as a whole and the east end in particular will not necessarily be positive. Again, I hope the games do have a positive outcome for the city but I am not at all convinced they will."

Sunday, 11 November 2007

"F***-all for local people"

From the Sunday Herald:

'Once an area of heavy industry and full employment, there are hopes commercial development can be sustained in Dalmarnock long after the games have gone. The creation of an urban regeneration company to attract investment is awaiting approval from the Scottish government, and the rosiest scenario predicts 20,000 new jobs in the east end over the next 20 years. It is hoped a new train station, a possible new subway link and the M74 extension will attract further spending power.

Yet scepticism remains. One shopkeeper voices the worst fears of a community used to disappointment: "It'll be boom-time for Glasgow, but there'll be f***-all for local people."

Professor Ivan Turok, of the University of Glasgow's urban studies department, warns that games-based regeneration would not work without listening to the needs of local people. "The people living in the area must benefit," he says. "The danger is that outside companies get the lion's share of contacts and profits.

"Regeneration is not inevitable. In places like Montreal and Edinburgh the games had a negative effect, saddling the cities with a financial burden."'

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Delhi's Date with the Commonwealth Games 2010

Glasgow isn't the only city to look forward to hosting an upcoming Commonwealth Games - Delhi will be doing so in 2010.

Here's one take on it by Amita Baviskar, Associate Professor of the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi University, courtesy of
Games Monitor:

"National prestige means that we are supposed to support the Games, wave our flag and feel proud. But prestige at what price? I am proud of Delhi, proud of its living heritage and culture. And I don’t want the Games or the mirage of a ‘world-class city’ to destroy what’s special about it. I want my money used for making Delhi better – for everyone, not just a handful of contractors, real estate developers, businessmen and politicians. Let’s cut the Games down to size and reclaim the city – for citizens and for the environment."

Full article here: http://www.gamesmonitor.org.uk/node/488

Friday, 9 November 2007

The pundits speak

Richard Leyton listened in to the BBC commentary and noted this:

'On “costs spiralling out of control”, one of the studios pundits (Michael Kelly, the former Lord Provost) says “the history of these projects is that they do go out of control, so it’d be no surprise if [costs] overran“, but that “when people start moaning [they must remember] how depressed we would have been [if we’d not won the bid]“. Helpfully, “we need to ensure the money is spent effectively; it means investment in Glasgow, real investment in houses, sporting facilities, transport links” and that “it means people will get behind this and we’ll start changing the [active] culture“.

'Truly marvellous stuff. Couldn’t have done any of that without the games at all, could we? And I did hear that correctly: senior people are already preparing ourselves for overspend on the already huge £288mincreasing budget for this miraculous anti-depressant? Super! I feel better already.'

Glasgow wins...or does it?

The announcement has just been made - Glasgow is now lumbered with the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

We'll be keeping an eye on how this all develops.

Commonwealth Games bid to be announced

The bid is due to be announced 12.45 UK time.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Purcell prearing for Commonwealth Games failure?

From glasgowLost:

Purcell prearing for Commonwealth Games Failure?

Just weeks before Culture and Sport Glasgow board member Steven Purcell leads a Glasgow City Council delegation on a massive £100,000 junket to Sri Lanka, glasgowLOST can exclusively reveal that Glasgow City Council has registered and recently renewed a number of domains linked to a possible bid for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. The junket to Sri Lanka will include Purcell and 45 other delegates to see if Glasgow will win the right to host Commonwealth Games in 2014. Also included in the party of the privileged is former First Minister Jack McConnell's wife Bridget, who is of course the ill-qualified chief executive of Culture and Sport Glasgow. Yet another Culture and Sport Glasgow board member joining in the free festivities will be Councillor Archie Graham.

The huge bill for the jaunt, which will be met out of a £5 million bidding kitty, will include an estimated £30,000 bill at the exclusive, five-star Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo.

Openly Purcell and his cronies have been ultra-confident about securing the Games ahead of Abuja in Nigeria, but gL can reveal that plans have been going on behind the scenes to prepare for the possibility of Glasgow joining the bidding process for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, should Glasgow lose in Sri Lanka. Central to this planning has been the registration and recent renewal of the following domain names:

  • Glasgow2018.com
  • Glasgow2018.co.uk
  • Glasgow2018.org
  • Glasgow2018.org.uk

While acknowledging that winning the Commonwealth Games bid in 2014 would have the potential to deliver some positive benefits for Glasgow, it looks increasingly likely that those benefits will not filter down to either the people of Glasgow, or small- and medium-sized businesses in the city.

gL.

Friday, 5 October 2007

"Our parks face the axe"

From the Evening Times:

Our park faces axe

FAMILIES are furious another vital piece of green space in Glasgow is being sold off for millions of pounds to developers.

The park, at the bottom of Broomhill Avenue near Partick, has been used for more than 50 years by children, dog walkers and for community events. It is also home to five trees and wildlife.

One angry resident has accused Glasgow City Council of a serious dereliction of duty - and of selling off the land in a bid to finance the city's bid to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Residents have learned the council-owned land is being sold as part of a package which includes the nearby Balshagray annexe of Anniesland College and the former Balshagray swimming pool - both of which are owned by Anniesland College.


Developers must submit proposals for the two-acre site, expected to fetch up to £5million, by October 17.

Chris Osborne, who has lived in Broomhill for seven years, said: "This is a real community amenity that is regularly used by the residents. It's the only nearby green space the kids have, apart from Victoria Park.

"The council views it as surplus land but they didn't ask anyone if it was surplus before they started negotiating with Anniesland college.

"Why was it six weeks from the developer proposals closing date before residents found out what was happening?

"This is opportunistic greed. There's no need for it to be sold, the council is selling off any land it can to fund the Commonwealth bid."

Kate Reid, who has lived in Broomhill for two years, said: "We fear a property developer will put up flats which will block out everyone's sunlight."

A spokesman for the council said: "It is absolutely not true to say that any monies raised from the sale of the land being jointly marketed is being used to fund the Commonwealth Games Bid.
"It is zoned as residential - not greenspace.


"The planning brief contains a number of options which either allow for demolition of the existing buildings and new development across the whole site, or refurbishment of the college building as flats with demolition of the pool and new build on the remaining land."

Earlier this week the Evening Times told of plans to build two four-storey blocks on two small parks on Leslie Street in Pollokshields.

And Green councillors have called for cash to be spent on more green spaces in the city.

To sign the online petition visit www.broomhillavenue.com

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Open letter to the Commonwealth Decision Makers

Finally, you have a chance to say if you don't want the Games in Glasgow. Sign the Open letter over at "We Don't Back the Bid" - here's the text of the letter:

"Open Letter to Commonwealth Games Decision Makers

The Commonwealth Games is being used by Glasgow City Council to sell off greenspaces, and to provide a justification to unsustainably redevelop the city in ways which will damage or destroy communities.

It is being used as an excuse by the council to demolish large areas of social housing to replaces these homes with private housing few can afford.

The bid for the 'Games has not led to the council investing in new sports facilities. In fact the revers has been true as many football pitches, parks and areas of green space continue to be eroded to make way for private housing.

Nobody asked the people of Glasgow if we wanted this. We the undersigned, certainly do not!

We call on those making the decision on which city finally wins the 'Games, to join with us and reject Glasgow's bid.

For the people of Glasgow, for the sake of our greenspaces, for the health of our communities, and for the future of our homes, please ensure Glasgow's bid for the Commonwealth Games is turned down!

We, the undersigned, reject the bid."

Friday, 14 September 2007

Halifax: Games bid details to be released after all

From the Chronicle (Halifax):

Games bid details will be released after all

Decision frees previously confidential information

By MICHAEL LIGHTSTONE Staff Reporter

What a difference a week makes.

Taxpayers will get crucial information about Halifax’s defunct Commonwealth Games bid after all, regional council heard Tuesday.

The city’s chief administrative officer told councillors that after seeking legal opinions, the province and Halifax Regional Municipality will be disclosing details of the proposal for the 2014 Games such as all travel costs, consulting fees, organizational charts, job descriptions and costs of events.

"The bottom line is we are prepared . . . to release as much information as legally possible," Dan English told the politicians.

He said members of the public or media representatives will not have to go through freedom-of-information channels to get previously confidential information about the bid. The material has been kept under wraps since Canada’s bid was killed six months ago.
Last week, an information report for regional council indicated that details about the proposal, which died in March when the city and province pulled the plug due to the Games’ $1.7-billion price tag, would only be accessible to the major organizations involved in the bidding process.


Councillors didn’t debate the bid information issue Tuesday but plan to do so next week.
Mr. English said neither the municipality nor the provincial government will be forcing people to file freedom-of-information requests, unless a request for bid details is "unreasonable" because it requires a great amount of time and staff resources.

He said the province and city hall must abide by privacy legislation that may prevent some information from being disclosed by either party.

"We’ll pull some information together and provide it back to council," Mr. English said. "These will be routine releases. We won’t wait for somebody to ask; we’ll provide it."

Mr. English said the Halifax 2014 organizing committee is still a legal entity. Once it surrenders its certificate of incorporation on Nov. 1, he said, it officially ceases to exist.

The organizing committee has to appoint a liquidator to handle any outstanding financial matters, Mr. English told reporters. He said the city "is not anticipating any problems" during that transitional period.

Mr. English, the city’s top bureaucrat in the Halifax 2014 group, said the municipality doesn’t have its own copies of fiscal details of the bid. He said the city will be "acquiring the services of someone" to go into the committee’s Dartmouth office "and assemble a higher level of detail . . . as it relates to the financial statements."

A municipal staff report presented to regional council says organizing the documents "into a comprehensive inventoried package prior to its availability will ensure ease of access and timely responses to . . . requests for specific information."

The cost of the Commonwealth Games and the secrecy related to Canada’s bid were probably the most controversial elements of the proposal. Bid committee members had always refused to provide a factual price tag, saying they didn’t want their competitors to take advantage of the disclosure.

Games opponents often complained the Olympic-style event in Halifax, which is now a two-way contest between Glasgow, Scotland, and Abuja, Nigeria, would probably cost more than $1 billion. In December 2005, when metro beat its domestic rivals for the right to bid internationally for the 2014 Games, the cost was pegged at $500 million.

In February 2006, the cost estimate was between $750 million and $785 million. The cost of preparing the bid was $14.3 million.

(
mlightstone@herald.ca)

’The bottom line is we are prepared . . . to release as much information as legally possible.’Dan EnglishHRM CEO

Monday, 20 August 2007

Update: You really, really do support the Games!!!

An eagle-eyed Glasgow resident spotted this story in the Scotsman from 17th June:

"Survey shows weight of Scots backing for Glasgow 's 2014 Games bid

MOIRA GORDON

A NEW survey has underlined the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games bid team's claim that the city is sport-hungry, revealing that the proposal has significant support from the Scottish population. Of those polled, 78% said they were in favour of the multi-sports event being staged in the city and while 15% remain undecided, only 7% claimed they were actively against it." (article continues here).

78%! That's a really big majority in favour! Funny how there's no mention of this on the Back the Bid website (at least as far as we can see, and obviously we're not picking up everything we should). And we've had a hard time finding any mention of this poll anywhere else. (BTW, if anyone can do a LexisNexis search for us, please get in touch).

Anyway, our eagle-eyed Glasgow resident, who we'll call Citizen X, thought it was a bit odd as well and contacted the Back the Bid folks. Citizen X asked how the poll was carried out, and if she could see the actual poll results. This was the reply:

"Hi ...
The survey was carried out face to face in the city centre of Glasgow .
If you can give me a few more details on why you would like to see the full results I will find out if that is possible, is it a work or university project? Are there any particular areas you are interested in?"


"Why would you like to see the full results"?! Maybe because she's a resident of Glasgow?

As yet, there has been no reply, but Citizen X promises to keep us updated. If you're curious about the poll, why not get in touch with the Back the Bid crew. Let us know what you find out. And if you were one of the people polled "face to face", get in touch.

"Buy into" the Games!

From City Strolls:

"Now we keep hearing how we are all going to have a wonderful experience when we "buy into" the Commonwealth Games - Olympic Games. We have heard nothing about who is going to make the most profit, how much "we" the citizens are going to get out of it. How the games are going to be policed. What will happen to the undesirables - homeless, beggars, folk who don't want to play the game, areas of deprivation, that can't be covered up for the tourists? You don't half buy into these corporate deals. When the ball starts rolling the decisions are taken out of the hands of the Purcell's, and put in the hands of business. The "Prison Industrial Complex" is the third biggest growth industry in America. Guess where Britain is getting most of its business ideas?"

Commonwealth Games boss "praises" Glasgow

From BBC News:

Games boss praises Glasgow 's bid The president of the Commonwealth Games Federation has praised Glasgow's bid to host the sporting event.

Micheal Fennell said he was "very satisfied" that the city could maintain the standards required to make the games a success.

Only Scotland and Nigeria have remained in the race to host the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

Commonwealth countries will decide on the winner in a secret ballot to be held in Sri Lanka in November.

Commonwealth Games Federation delegates do not get a vote.

Speaking on a visit to Glasgow, Mr Fennell said the city's image had changed for the better over the past 10 years.

"The level of commitment here is absolutely great," he said.

"The commitment has to come not just from sportspeople but also from government, the people, the city council, to host the games requires a strong commitment from everyone."


Let Mr Fennell know how you feel - drop him a line: mfennell@cwjamaica.com

Thanks to Glasgow Residents Network for spotting this one.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

"Our research shows you really do support the Games!"

So, you don't back the bid, eh? Well, as it happens you're wrong. And the folks at the Back the Bid website can prove it - here's how they answered the Commonwealth Games Federation question about providing evidence of public support for the bid:


Question 2.11
Provide any evidence of the support of the national, regional and local population towards your project of hosting the Commonwealth Games, including possible other localities involved in your project.
• Opinion polls –
Please provide details of any polls carried out including:
dates, questions asked, sample size, area covered
• Referendum (if applicable)
• Awareness campaigns
• Other.

Public support

The Bid has received formal support from individuals and groups throughout Scotland. All local authorities, chambers of commerce, universities, national agencies and a vast range of other organisations in the public, voluntary and commercial sector have signed up. Many have been represented formally in the Bid structure.

Individuals, companies and organisations, schools, other educational establishments and sports clubs have been encouraged to Back Scotland’s Bid and so far total support represents over 1,700,000 people in Scotland and further afield [our emphasis]. Included in these numbers are some of Scotland’s best known figures from business, culture and sport. Glasgow and Scotland will continue to reflect the ride in hosting such a prestigious occasion.We will use it further to raise national and International awareness of the Games, the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth Games Federation.

Wow! "So far total support represents over 1,700,000 people in Scotland and further afield". That's a lot of people. Funny though, I don't remember being asked. And as you can see from the answer above, no opinion polls were referenced, and there will be no referendum - so how do they figure 1,700,000 people support the Bid?

Well, when we look at the Back the Bid website, all is revealed. At the moment, apparently the number of supporters is up to 1,745,159. And a helpful breakdown is given:

"Who is backing the bid?
87,424 individuals
1,437,920 companies & organisations, staff & members
32 local authorities
179,218 educational establishments, staff & students
40,565 sports clubs and their members"

So, actually 87,424 individuals have signed up to support the bid. The rest of the numbers are arrived at a little generously it would seem. And the individual backers are indeed from "further afield" - like New York, Copenhagen and, interestingly, Halifax, Nova Scotia. You may remember that Halifax's bid fell apart recently.

And we're not entirely confident about the Back the Bid website's information gathering abilities. The first listing under "companies & organisations" is " ,Edinburgh" (sic). Do they mean the entire city, or is there a company in Edinburgh with no name?

We'll be contacting the Back the Bid website and asking when they plan on carrying out some opinion polls.

Friday, 10 August 2007

Daylight robbery



Image from City Strolls

"Final pish backing Scotland's bid"

City Strolls links to a marvelous example of propaganda:

Final pish backing Scotland's Bid for 2014 Commonwealth Games - Steven Purcell and Nicola Sturgeon [video]

"Olympic sized horror in Greece"

Thanks to City Strolls for this one:

'We are also getting bombarded with stories about how Athens is "a city transformed" by the Olympic Midas touch. As International Olympic Committee Chairman Jacques Rogge put it, "At Athens the legacy will be a new airport, new metro, new suburban train, ....this is a legacy the Greeks will be proud of."

'But don't let the gold, silver, or soft-core sexism fool you: These Greek Olympics arrive bathed from head to toe in blood and dust.

'You won't hear about it in NBC's gauzy coverage, but Amnesty International estimates that anywhere between 40 and 150 construction workers died in work place accidents building Olympic facilities. The new center right government of Costas Karamanlis, terrified of international embarrassment for not having a modernized infrastructure, turned the screws to finish facilities by any means necessary

'In the last push of round the clock preparation alone, 13 laborers were killed at the service of making Athens, in the words of one Olympic official, "habitable for a global audience".
As Andreas Zazopoulos, head of the Greek Construction Workers Union said, `"We have paid for the Olympic games in blood."

'Their deaths aren't the only cause of local anger. The Karamanlis government has scuttled Greek law forbidding foreign personnel from carrying weapons in the country by allowing hundreds - perhaps thousands - of American, British and Israeli Special Forces soldiers to be armed to the teeth throughout Athens.

'City authorities are also, according to Democracy Now, "rounding up homeless people, drug addicts, and the mentally ill requiring that psychiatric hospitals lock them up. Also affected by Athens Olympic clean-up are refugees and asylum seekers, some of whom are being targeted for detention and deportation in the days leading up to the games." '

Read
the whole story.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Financial trouble for the bid

From GamesBid.com:

Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Bid Has Financial Setback

A council report published Wednesday reveals that the cost of refurbishing the Royal Commonwealth Pool has increased by seven million pounds in less than two years. The Edinburgh News reports that the planned overhaul is now estimated to cost 36 million pounds and officials have warned it will rise again unless work starts next year.

The pool overhaul is a key part of Glasgow’s bid for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, with diving events planned to take place in Edinburgh. The project would also feature an Olympic-standard 50-metre pool and diving arena, as well as a new “fun pool”.

The newspaper reports that the rising cost means the project faces a nine million pound funding “black hole” unless the Meadowbank Stadium is sold off for housing or the Scottish Executive bails the city out by covering the shortfall.

The reason for the increase is attributed to rampant inflation in the cost of construction projects across the UK.

The council now has pledged 27 million pounds for rebuilding the pool complex.

The refurbishment is scheduled to being next fall, is due for completion in 2010, and is earmarked as an official training camp for both the London 2012 Summer Games and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

If more funds are not committed the Edinburgh News reports that the only other realistic option is said to dramatically scale back the plans or shelve the project.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

The "facts"

Here are the"facts" about the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, acorrding to this bit of glossy propaganda from Glasgow City Council:


"*Just the facts

  • £250-300 million – the cost of staging the Games
  • 80 per cent will be paid for by the Scottish Executive
  • £81 million – the net economic benefits to Scotland of staging the games
  • £30 million – the benefit to Glasgow’s economy
  • an estimated four per cent increase in tourism – excluding conference bookings
  • £5 million – the cost of bidding for the 2014 Commonwealth Games
  • £6 million – the net economic benefits to Glasgow of staging the Games
  • half will be paid for by the Scottish Executive
  • 7,500 athletes and officials expected to attend
  • 1,000 – net Glasgow jobs and 1,200 Scottish jobs
  • The five “core” sports which have been confirmed for the 2014
  • Commonwealth Games are: athletics, race swimming, lawn bowls, rugby 7s (men) and netball (women). A further 15 will be selected"

We'll be coming back to these figures as time goes on.

This sort of thing couldn't happen in Glasgow!

From Not the Clissold Leisure Centre:

Watchdog warning over Olympics Games costs

"Significant uncertainties" over the London 2012 Olympics could drive the cost of the Games higher, the government's spending watchdog warns.

The National Audit Office (NAO) said the £9.3bn budget announced in March was "sufficient to cover the estimated costs of the Games" as plans stood.

But the NAO report warned it was true only if "the assumptions on which the budget is based hold good".

(Via BBC NEWS England London Watchdog warning over Games costs: .)

Saturday, 4 August 2007

It ain't over yet...

Commonwealth Game delegates have been visiting and the Herald makes it all sound super-fabulous! - apparently formerly "dreary" Glasgow has been through a "metamorphosis". (A visitor to the Herald website commented: "Obviously never went out to the schemes then?")

But Abuja could be outbidding its rival, and there are some who think its about time for an African nation to host the games. And that makes sense, but we still can't help wondering what the people of Nigeria think of their government offering countries "a $125,000 grant towards travel and training."

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

"Inappropriate to local needs"

From the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a report issued in March 2007 about Halifax's failed bid for the Commonwealth Games:

Authors James Wildsmith (development economist), and Michael Bradfield (Professor of Economics, Dalhousie conclude that the “Halifax bid over-estimated the benefits and under-estimated the costs and that hosting the Games would be a very expensive way to generate sports and other infrastructure.”

“When governments support the development of major sporting events” according to Wildsmith “they need to ensure the public's best interest by taking into account the overall costs and benefits of the event.”

Bradfield points out that “the estimated economic benefit from the Halifax Games and spending by tourists was grossly over-estimated and the forecasting model used was an inappropriate tool to base an investment decision on.”

The appropriate tool according to the authors is a cost-benefit analysis which, while required by the federal government, was not completed for the Halifax bid.

The report’s review of the experience of other cities that have hosted major international sporting events concludes that legitimate benefits of these events are the legacy of the games facilities and the urban infrastructure built for them. But Wildsmith points out “games usually do not even cover the costs of running them and the pubic is left to foot the bill for infrastructure and long term maintenance.” The reality is, Bradfield adds, that “in most cities, the infrastructure is expensive to build, costly to maintain, and inappropriate to local needs.”


Read the report here.

Halifax: "A lasting legacy"

Halifax, Nova Scotia was one of the original Commonwealth Games bidders, along with Glasgow and Abuja, Nigeria. Halifax's bid fell apart a few months ago however.

But in the spirit of openness and transparency that characterises our modern democracies, the president of Halifax's bid committee won't tell anyone what has become of the public money spent on this venture.

The organisers "spent $8.5 million [Canadian dollars] in taxpayers' money", but they won't tell the citizens who profited from this.

As the president says:

"All those documents are in the hands of the actual international bid committee at this particular point and I don’t know if they ever will be divulged," said Fred MacGillivray, president of the Halifax 2014 bid committee.

"That’s not a decision I will make."

Well that's perfectly clear isn't it? It just goes to show that these mega-events are designed to "provide a lasting legacy" in the words of our own Steven Purcell. It's just that the actual legacy may be a little different from the pretty pictures that are painted by our dear leaders. It doesn't really matter if the games happen or not, because the same people keep on making massive amounts of money from the public. It's amazing, schools need to close, but there's plenty of money to be thrown at mega-events.

See more here at the Chronicle Herald: http://www.thechronicleherald.ca/Front/847205.html

Monday, 23 July 2007

Back the Common Good Games!


Check out the "Common Good Games" over at City Strolls:


"The Commonwealth Games is a kickback from British Empire days. There is nothing Commonwealth about them, apart from the robbery of the commonwealth into the pockets of the not so common wealthy.


"Now it is much easier to convince people that the Commonwealth Games is a wonderful achievement for the city and we will share and benefit from winning this prestigious event. People like sport - so our kind and generous city administrators are giving the people what they want? Did they not give us "The Garden Festival" "Culture City" "City of Architecture" and many more accolades that we can be proud of? Did we not enjoy ourselves for a few weeks? Did not each succeeding council leader in turn promise that the profits from these events would be spent on creating social inclusion? And do we not see the benefits of this social inclusion all around us? All these beautiful flats along the river - nice hotels, bistros all the shopping retail outlets and Tesco's we could only dream of before these accolades became ours - the people's of Glasgow.



"It is through the profits of these events and achievements that we have been able to afford to welcome so many asylum seekers to our city. Have we not spread this wealth and social inclusion to the folk in Keppochhill, Parkhead, Hutchesontown, Bridgeton, Dalmarnock, Queenslie, Royston, Braidfauld, Ibrox, Barlanark, Ashfield, Milton, Wyndford, Easterhouse, Summerhill, to mention a few. OK perhaps a few of these places fell through the regeneration net. But we really promise this time. If you let use have the Commonwealth Games and allow us to sell of some old dusty buildings a few parks that no ones bothered about anyway. We will make sure everyone benefits. Honest."



Sunday, 22 July 2007

The Scottish Executive: Protecting Intellectual Property Rights


From the "intellectual property" focused website IPKAT:





A mini-consultation on the UKIPO website draws attention to the Scottish Executive’s draft provisions for a new Bill if it’s successful in its attempts to host the Commonwealth Games in 2014. Amongst the issues raised is the need to prevent possible ambush marketing, to whit, the Scottish Executive’s document contains the following:

Advertising

12. The draft Bill will make it a criminal offence to advertise within the vicinity of a Games event during the Games period without authorisation. This will be a summary offence punishable by a fine up to a maximum of £20,000. Following consultation with the Organising Committee, Ministers will designate in secondary legislation the areas and periods during which the restrictions will apply.

To make matters more fun, the Scottish Executive does not have the power to legislate on IP. IP provisions would need to come from Westminster. Consequently, the UKIPO is in discussions with the Scottish Executive as to what extra powers would be needed to prevent ambush marketing, and would welcome comments by email from interested parties by 21 September.

The IPKat says that the proposed provisions are rather harsh. They may be effective in preventing the advertising (although he wonders if £20K will deter larger companies), but the sums involved seem more focused on the harm suffered by authorised advertisers than on the ‘naughtiness’ of ambush marketers’ actions.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Costs Rise




The Herald reports the cost of Glasgow staging the 2014 Commonwealth Games may be almost 10 million pounds higher than originally projected.


It would be a three per cent increase on the initial total cost of 288 million pounds and would be split 80/20 between the Scottish Executive and Glasgow City Council, reports the newspaper.

Bid director Derek Casey described it as “a contingency rather than a definite increase”.

The issue came up in the wake of a Commonwealth Games Federation evaluation visit. Casey said, “the commission had some supplementary questions and suggested that we might not hit our target for broadcasting rights. It is impossible to predict how new technology might impact on that market seven years from now. Though it could be worth more than we projected, the commission have suggested it might be worth less. So it is prudent to err on the side of caution. We are not just talking TV and radio. It is impossible to judge how the Internet might dilute these broadcasting rights”, he said.

He added, “it’s impossible to predict how the world may be in 2014, but the increase may not actually occur. With more countries coming in there is more potential revenue”.
Casey denied the increased costs signalled the start of a London Olympic-style escalation in costs.

He said, “there is no question of that whatever. This is well thought-out analysis and the review of costs has been extremely robust. We have been absolutely transparent on the figures throughout and when any chance has occurred we have immediately informed the public”.

The 9.5 million pound increase covers a range of issues highlighted by the commission – broadcasting, lighting, venue improvements including extra temporary seating, athlete catering and transport.

A success?: The 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games


From Games Monitor:

"The Barcelona case represents these aspects extremely well. The 1992 Olympic Games are recorded as a success, even if they didn’t fulfil the expectations they claimed. The Olympic investments (in the broad sense, including some roads, coastal area renewal, cultural outlets, etc.), reached near 6 million euros (£4.1m) and 53% of that budget were public funds. But the economic activity that this money generated didn’t have a positive impact on the economic indicators of the Barcelona area.

"Between 1987 and 1991 the number of jobs created in the construction sector were only 33.000, a figure much lower than was expected considering that three quarters of the total investment went towards the construction sector. On top of this, all of them were temporary jobs. In the hotel and catering trade sector only 20.000 new jobs appeared and only lasted the duration of the event, again, much less than was expected. In the other sectors, the labour impact was zero (we tend to forget that the Olympic volunteers take on a great amount of tasks that would otherwise generate jobs). During 1992, the number of jobs began to fall.

"If we take a look at trade, we will see that during 1992 the sales rate decreased and the number of tourists that visited the city (a million and a half) was lower than expected and spent less money than it was estimated (exactly the same has happened in Athens this last summer). Also, the Barcelona event resulted in a dramatic decrease in the number of people that visited other destinations in the Barcelona region.

"Basically, the only economic indicator that experienced an important impact as a result of the Olympic Games were price levels. Since 1988, city price levels increased more than in the rest of the region and more than 1% over the inflation rate in Spain. In the year before the Games, prices rose more than 3% over the prices of the rest of Spain. And if we think that the city gains profit from television broadcasting rights, we should not forget that it is the Olympic Committee who collects this money. In fact, the progressive growth of this source of money has turned the International Olympic Committee into a big (and suspicious) enterprise.

"How can we understand the minute economic impact and the lack of fulfilment of expectations? We could focus on the unbridled optimism that seems to encumber the people who do the impact studies, but, especially, we should focus on the limited frame in which the investments take place. If the demand related with the Olympic Games (or any other mega-event) takes up resources that would otherwise remain unused, it would be reasonable to expect an increase in employment, as well as an improvement of the economic indicators in general. Nonetheless, demand growth related with a mega-event doesn’t produce a net income, because it is a consequence of a mere change in the direction of the resource’s flow; that is, the resources go to a specific sector or a particular place but only because they are coming from another sector or place.

"The same goes for private capital: it tends to reduce its investments in other sectors or in other spatial areas. If we pay attention to the recommendations that the economic impact studies use to achieve a real net increase in profits, for example, to make the labour market more flexible, it is clear that the aim of obtaining net profits loses part of its appeal.

"Astonishingly, even if the mega-events don’t fulfil their expectations, this is never seen as a failure. Nobody seems to care for or to be surprised by this failure and the event ends with a sense of success. If we want to understand this incoherence, we should put aside the idea of competition as a heuristic tool and focus on the fabulous opportunity for businesses that follow urban transformations related with mega-events.

"Indeed, even the need to attract tourism and the desire to improve the competitive position of the city in the urban hierarchy seems a petty and secondary question if we compare this with the local elite’s focus on an easy profit. Of course, I am not saying that urban governments don’t want to promote the image of their cities with the purpose of generating employment, attracting enterprise headquarters and so on.

"Regrettably, one of our most serious problems is that urban governments seem to be convinced that, in a globalized world, there’s no point in promoting local enterprise development. They believe that the best they can do is to turn the city into an appealing zone for foreign investments. But the weakness of some of their strategies and the blindness with which they insist that these strategies actually work, make us question their genuine interests in the city.

"In short, we cannot forget that when a mega-event is organized, the money that really flows into a city is, in the first place, public money that falls into the hands of private businessmen. That’s why it is so difficult to understand where the city expects to obtain incomes by organizing a mega-event, and how little the urban government cares.

"When asked about the profits the city of Madrid may gain from hosting the Olympic Games, a representative for the Olympic candidature discussed broadcasting copyrights (that, as I have previously stated, benefit Olympic Committee and not the city) and the tourist appeal that the city will gain. He referred to the Barcelona case as a big success and talked about the millions of tourists that have visited Barcelona in the last years as a result of the Olympic Games. What he forgot to mention is that the flow of tourists into Barcelona has not been an easy or inexpensive achievement. The strategy has only worked with the help of a continuous and huge public investment in private business, for example, in the hotel sector, dangerously close to bankruptcy –all in all, another typical episode of socialization of losses and privatisation of profits.

"However, if we consider that the investors that promoted and financed a big part of the Olympic Games budget in Barcelona were real estate and construction companies, property developers, land speculators, finance companies and hotel and catering trade firms, we will understand that, indeed, the 1992 Barcelona Olympics can be considered a success. Of course, as a result of the Olympic candidature, Barcelona witnessed a frantic building activity, an increase in the housing and land prices and a huge urban transformation that entailed the conversion of a big amount of industrial land into service or housing plots.

"In fact, urban renewal related to a mega-event is not as much a secondary effect as it is a fundamental raison d’ĂȘtre. The recent Forum Universal de las Culturas that has taken place in Barcelona this summer confirms this idea: instead of organizing a mega-event that could reuse the installations built ten years ago as a result of the Olympic Games, the Barcelona government and elite have decided to invent a new kind of event whose major aim, no one can doubt, is urban transformation. This multicultural event has proven to be an effective excuse to finally implement urban renewal in the last coastal area of Barcelona that still has a low income population. A made-to-measure operation for the private capital that has been a real fiasco for the city. "

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Don't back the bid!!!


Glasgow City Council wants to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Why?

Well, they say that:
Once again, public money is spent to make the rich richer, while the needs of the citizens are actively ignored.

So if you don't back the bid, get in touch.