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.Who on earth ever believed those promises about budgets anyway?
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.
“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.How many schoolsn’ospitsals could we have bought with that money?
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.
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…