Friday, 13 February 2009

After The Great White Horse Of Ebbsfleet…

…comes the Great White Elephant Of Stratford:
Taxpayers face a multimillion-pound maintenance bill at the Olympic Park after organisers admitted that they had failed to find a commercial operator to take over the main venue after 2012.
Whoops! Good job Tessa!
Amid growing concerns of a repeat of the £1billion Millennium Dome fiasco, The Times has learnt that the Olympic stadium will cost at least £800,000 a year to keep open.
The obvious answer – ‘Close it, then!’ – is presumably not going to be suggested…
Ministers announced their strategic vision yesterday for an urban park - the largest in Europe - divided into six neighbourhoods, with up to 16,000 new homes and six new schools built around world-class sports facilities. But they declined to say how the stadium, which will have a secondary school for 500 pupils and a national skills academy for sport incorporated into the undercroft, would generate money after 2012.
Oh, great, a ‘strategic vision’. Which, translated, means ‘Jobs for our chums and consultants, and the taxpayer forks out for it!’
In an embarrassing admission, three years after promising that the Olympic venues would not be a further drain on the public purse, the Government said that no football or rugby club was interested in becoming the anchor tenant after 2012.
A possible deal with West Ham United, similar to the one in which Manchester City inherited the Commonwealth Games stadium after 2002, foundered more than a year ago.

No progress has been made with lower-league football clubs because the stadium's design - a submerged bowl surrounded by an athletics track - means that spectators would be too far from the action on the field.
Who on earth ever believed those promises about budgets anyway?
“There were insuperable obstacles to do with the shape and it would have cost far more in the end to create a stadium suitable for Premier League football, even if there was one [a club] willing to come to the table,” Boris Johnson, the London Mayor, said. “But we will have a world-class facility, which will be a wonderful thing for British athletics.”
Not so wonderful for the poor taxpayers, though, eh Boris…?
Construction of the stadium, due for completion in the summer of 2011, is too far advanced to change tack.

The original cost estimate in 2004, when London was bidding for the Games, was £282 million. By November 2007 this figure had risen to £496 million and this month it emerged that it could cost £547 million.
How many schoolsn’ospitsals could we have bought with that money?
Hugh Robertson, the Tories' Olympics spokesman, said: “London is in danger of following previous Olympic cities in creating expensive white elephants.”
Indeed. So we’ll see a Conservative policy to immediately scrap it, and cancel the games, will we…?

No, thought not.
A £10million annual maintenance fund has been earmarked for the park, although it is not clear whether this will come from London taxpayers or central government.
I like the unspoken assumption that money from ‘central government’ isn’t also from taxpayers…
“The infrastructure of the area will change for ever with a sport, business and cultural park that I hope will act as a magnet for business and investment,” Tessa Jowell, the Olympics Minister, said. “Every single venue will be used by people of all ages, right through to the sporting elite of the world.”
Oooh, lots of ‘hope’ there – I feel like I’m listening to an Obama speech.

And here it is again:
Ministers hope to create a digital industry hub around the £355million media centre, which will now be wholly publicly financed after private investment disappeared in the credit crunch. They say that 10,000 jobs will be created around the Olympic park. “It is not only about buildings. It's about creating communities, where people are happy to live and work for years to come,” Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary, said.
People create communities, Hazel. Governments, not so much…


Anonymous said...

Do you ever think you can hear the French sniggering and saying "Brer Rabbit, don't throw me in the briar patch"?

JuliaM said...

Heh! Quite...

Anonymous said...

It's pathetic to see someone who's as realistic as Boris Johnson getting caught up in the "wonder" of London 2012. He knows - and knew - as well as anyone that this white elephant is going round in circles with a shedload of taxpayers' cash on its back. You see, although politics is the art of the possible, it's also the art of dishonesty and disinformation. I reckon we could still hand it over to the French (if they'd take it). Actually it would be worthwhile handing over a cash bribe of £5 billion to encourage them to do so.

I remember when the old GLC handed over Ally Pally to Haringey (you know, the financial and social care geniuses of North London), the GLC coughed up (I think) about £8 million as a sweetener. So far that particular white elephant has cost Haringey council taxpayers hundreds of millions. £5 billion to the French would be cheap.

Oldrightie said...

It's only more tax payer debt. As balls might exclaim, "So what".

Anonymous said...

I bet the megasmosque comes to its rescue somehow,mark my words.

Stan said...

The thing about a "strategic vision" is that it needs a strategy to go with it. I don't think "pouring taxpayers money down the drain" actually counts as a strategy although it's the only one this government seems to have.

Shaun said...

Ministers hope to create a digital industry hub around the £355million media centre, which will now be wholly publicly financed after private investment disappeared in the credit crunch. They say that 10,000 jobs will be created around the Olympic park.

As an independent IT contractor who speaks and deals with other IT contractors and firms and then general-trade clients, I've got to say that location matters not. If you can get a phone line and broadband, you can work from anywhere.

You don't, on well managed projects, gain anything by physically sucking folk into a single geographical location daily. Once in a while, to keep things on track, yeah, but in general... why? Sure, in environs where you don't trust your workmates to actually do the work without a guy over their shoulder cracking a whip then you want people where you can see them.

But the IT, particularly the web world post 2000 crash and definitely in the wake of this current kerfuffle, is about freelancers doing their jobs dependent on what they deliver. Where they deliever from is irrelevent. So what the hell is £355m about?

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