Sunday, 22 November 2009

BBC: "Venues behind schedule"

From the BBC:

Venues for 2014 'behind schedule'

Artist's impression of velodrome
Work on several of the venues is running behind schedule

More must be done to make sure the cost of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow does not rise again, according to an official report.

The public spending watchdog Audit Scotland said that preparations for the games were progressing but warned that major challenges lay ahead.

The report comes days after the budget for the Games was increased by £81m.

It also said several of the venues were unlikely to be ready by the dates suggested in the original bid.

Earlier this week it emerged that the cost of hosting the Games had risen from £373m to £454m.

Audit Scotland's report was compiled before that budget increase was announced.

Caroline Gardner, deputy auditor general, said: "In the current economic climate public sector finances are already under pressure and it is essential that the organisers keep costs under control.

Unless a firm hand is exercised, this project could spiral out of all control
Bill Aitken MSP
Scottish Conservatives

"They need to continue to monitor and review the budget assumptions regularly."

The report also highlighted how several of the venues will now be ready later than predicted in the bid document.

The National Indoor Sports Arena was due to be complete by next March next year but will now not be ready until the end of 2011.

Fixed deadline

The Cathkin Braes cycling course is now expected to be complete in March 2012, almost three years late, and the refurbishment of Glasgow Green hockey complex and the national swimming centre have also slipped behind schedule.

However, Audit Scotland stressed that all the venues and transport projects would still be delivered in time for the Games beginning in July 2014.

John Baillie, chair of the Accounts Commission, said: "Although a key feature of the bid was that 70% of the infrastructure, including venues, was already in place, delivering a high quality Commonwealth Games to a fixed deadline presents major challenges for the four main organisers.

"It is crucial that risks are well managed as plans progress towards hosting the Games in 2014."

Athletes' Village
A 38.5 hectare athletes' village will be built in Dalmarnock for the Games

Glasgow Conservative MSP Bill Aitken called for a parliamentary statement on the issue.

He said: "Unless a firm hand is exercised, this project could spiral out of all control.

"Taxpayers need to know which budget will bear the costs and what else will be cut to pay for the increased costs."

Labour agreed that a "firm hand" was needed "to prevent any overrun" and the Liberal Democrats said the Games budget was likely to "creep up" with the Scottish government's budget being "raided to plug the gaps".

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: "The Audit Scotland study is a snapshot of Games planning activity up to August 2009.

"The Government and our Games partners have made substantial progress in recent months and this has a bearing on many of the findings.

She added: "Most significantly, the Games partners recognised the risk posed by an insufficient budget to the successful delivery of the Games and our ability to secure a lasting legacy.

"That is why the organising committee announced a budget increase of £81m. Audit Scotland have recommended, this will help to manage one of the major risks facing the Games."

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

FT: "Glasgow games hit by high broadcast cost"

From the Financial Times

Glasgow games hit by high broadcasting cost

By Andrew Bolger, Scotland Correspondent

Published: November 16 2009 14:17 | Last updated: November 16 2009 18:47

The high cost of broadcasting sports events has been partly blamed by organisers of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow for the need to increase their budget by almost a quarter to almost half-a-billion pounds.

The games will be broadcast in high definition and will require additional facilities to enable viewers to select multiple events using “red button” digital options.

When the games were held in Manchester in 2002 the BBC covered the total broadcasting costs. However, the BBC could not commit to this at present, the games organisers said on Monday, while the market value of the broadcasting rights had fallen. They therefore had to allow for “a potential multi-million pound deficit”.

Most of the £81m increase to the budget, taking it to £454m, will be met by the Scottish government, although Glasgow city council will contribute an extra £9m and a further £13m will be raised from commercial activities.

Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister, said the increase was challenging for the public purse but insisted the games would boost business and tourism. “The fact that 70 per cent of the games venues are already built will help guarantee no further pressure on the public purse,” he said.

But Murdo Fraser, deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said it was “appalling” that public projects exceeded their budgets in a recession.

“We are already £80m over budget and the games are still five years away. Is this going to be another disaster on the scale of the Scottish parliament?”

The cost of Holyrood grew almost 10 times between 1997 and 2003.

The games organising committee said it had increased its contingency fund from £40m to £60m, partly to cover the risks involved in converting Scotland’s national football stadium at Hampden into an athletics facility, which will require the field to be raised by 1.5m.

The committee believed 10 per cent more staff would be required during the games – 100 more than proposed in the original bid.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Who'd a-thunk it?

From BBC Online:

Cost of 2014 Games 'set to soar'

The budget for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow is to be increased by £80m, BBC Scotland understands.

The bulk of the money will come from the Scottish government and Glasgow City Council.

It is thought some of the extra cash will be used to enable the games to be broadcast on high definition TV.

The original budget for the games was set at £373m but more funds are said to be required as a result of the global economic recession.

It is understood global economic circumstances have changed the figures originally outlined to cover the cost of staging the games.

An announcement on the additional funding is expected to be made early next week.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

A Glasgwegian writes...

From Glasgow Guide - a writer discusses the plans for redudancy for over 50s in Glasgow City Council:

The terms of Redundancy may look good, but anyone accepting them should remember they will have quite a few years to wait before they can claim SRP.

This crowd on the Council must be the worse crowd to run Glasgow that I can remember.

The City is dirty and needs a good clean up. The cracks in our roads and pavements are terrible.
I know a lot of people are responsible for the litter, but we do need more litter bins in all our streets.

In July they sent men round our area covering the pavements with a thin covering of tar which is already cracked and full of lumps. There is grass growing in the middle of the pavements.

As the area we live in is a small private estate, I am seriously thinking of sending a registered letter to the Council informing them that if anyone slips on the grassy pavement and injures themself outside our house, they the Council will be held responsible and liable to be sued and not us.

We have trees so tall and wide they are against our hall and bedroom windows. This is on ground maintained by the Council for which the builders of the houses pay Glasgow Council for maintenance.

A neighbour in her 80s asked the Council to cut the trees back and was told to get it done and pay for it herself.

It is obvious those in the Council knew the city could not afford the Commonwealth Games. But no doubt they will tell us the City will gain from it as there will a lot of money spent by all the people coming to Glasgow to see the Games.

When the next Council election comes along we should not elect anyone age 50 yrs or over.