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: 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:

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.