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.

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: