Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 440 - 449)



  440. You said, Minister, in your opening statement you were closely involved with attempts to raise sponsorship. Councillor Leese in 1999 said to us, "In terms of what we will need to do in terms of raising sponsorship, particularly on a national level, we are only likely to do that successfully if we have the full support of Government, the sort of support we have seen perhaps with the Millennium Dome, if I can draw that as an analogy." I do not want to embarrass Councillor Leese but perhaps with hindsight, given one or two of your colleagues have had their fingers badly burnt in terms of raising sponsorship for the Dome, how do you go about it and maintain the levels of propriety in doing that? It is a difficult balance for a politician to become involved in basically touting for money, raising money for a project such as this. How do you go about doing it?  (Mr McCartney) First of all, I do not tout for money.

  441. I am sorry, that was the wrong word.  (Mr McCartney) Secondly, the responsibility for sponsorship lies with Manchester 2002. I have no involvement in the planning of that, I have no involvement in the negotiations, indeed, to be honest with you, I myself do not ask them about the details of the negotiations which take place because they are confidential in terms of relationships. If someone wants to maintain that confidence then I have full confidence in them to deal with that. My role is an ambassadorial role as a minister. I do not go in and negotiate or facilitate meetings on sponsorship. My job is to ensure, where people are interested in sponsorship, we give them an absolute commitment and understanding of what the Government's role is. They are not coming in here to be involved in an organisation which has no relationship with Government which the Government is going to walk away from. My job is to ensure that people interested in sponsorship know the Government is behind the project, the Government has got ministers who are delivering the things the Government needs to deliver and are delivering them on time. Thirdly, the ambassador role is to persuade people to get involved in what is the biggest event ever organised in the United Kingdom. That is a legitimate role. There is no Government in the world which organises big international events where there is not a role for sponsorship. You cannot run big international events in the world without a role for sponsorship and that means being an ambassador for the Games, and that is what my role is and that is what I have been doing, that is what the Prime Minister has been doing. The Prime Minister has done a promotional video which goes out to potential sponsors which tells them what the Games are about, and my role is to do that in a different way, to encourage people by going to receptions and talking to people. Manchester 2002 and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office have receptions for potential sponsors and at those receptions, in addition to the potential sponsors, those who have already become sponsors come along and act as an advocate with the Minister too. So if I go and talk to somebody and say, "We want you to be a sponsor", we have people already on board who can explain why they got involved. I am not a negotiator or a facilitator, I am an ambassador. I think every minister should have that role in terms of this event, persuade people this is worth being involved in.

  442. Minister, it was not a criticism at all—  (Mr McCartney) No, I did not take it as a criticism.

  443. You have also answered my next point. You mentioned in your opening statement the Prime Minister's involvement and you have just said his was an ambassadorial role.  (Councillor Leese) I ought to say that what I said in 1999 was absolutely quite correct. I was asked earlier about mistakes we have made, clearly one of the mistakes we have made was to give you precise figures in 1999, and we have not made that mistake today!

  444. As no one else has asked, can I go to a completely different topic and ask about the issue of transport during the Games? No one has touched on it, so I hope I might just mention it. We were bussed around yesterday and clearly Manchester can be a very busy city at times. In Sydney the local transport authority took on statutory powers to move people around. We have seen at other Games sometimes the disastrous effects if athletes and spectators cannot get round. Can you tell us what you are doing to facilitate both the movement of athletes and also the movement of the general public?  (Ms Done) Yes. Manchester 2002, working with all the partners in Manchester and Greater Manchester, are planning hard to make sure that we do not gridlock the City and not only athletes but everybody can get around the City at the time of the Games. The main elements are really to recognise that in any event of this type what we have to do is encourage the use of public transport, both into Manchester and around Manchester between venues. Obviously that is easier said than done since the British public are well attached to cars when they have them. What we will be doing is trying to put in place, and we are well ahead with these plans, means by which the use of public transport will be encouraged. So, for example, you saw on your trip yesterday that the distance between the City centre and Sportcity is really quite short a distance. We will be setting up arrangements either for a fast bus along the route of Metrolink or, if that is not possible, shuttle buses between the City centre and Sportcity, that is for the general public. We will be encouraging people to park and to walk or to come in by public transport and walk and also park and ride schemes, of course, will be encouraged using existing transport networks and sometimes special ones. We will be making sure in conjunction with the local bus operators and tram operators that we encourage the putting on of services later in the evening to a greater quantity than we would otherwise normally have so that people can be sure that when they go to an event they can also get home. We are negotiating with the local operators to try to secure that spectators with a ticket will be able to travel free on public transport within Greater Manchester. We are very optimistic that the local bus operators and train operators will see that is a very, very good PR thing for them to do and will encourage the use of public transport. We are working very closely with all the agencies, Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive, the police, the Highways Agency, Government Office for North West. As you all know it is a very complex transport situation compared with, say, Sydney. We have to deal with a large number of operators but our experience to date is that they are very keen to make sure this all works. Of course we have to, under the constitution, provide dedicated bus services for athletes, team officials and the media, and we will shortly be in a position to announce a sponsorship deal which will provide that arrangement with a company which knows how to run buses.

  445. Good value for kind.  (Ms Done) Yes. Very valuable value for kind because certainly I do not want my own company to set up the infrastructure to start running buses, we would rather leave that to the experts. I think we are well on target with the planning but we are not complacent at all. It is one of the major areas which will decide whether people after the Games feel that the whole event was a success.  (Mr Allen) Just maybe to add to that, if you look at some of the practical problems, and again it comes back to people with experience, one of the problems they had in America was they did not have experienced drivers. So you had this fantastic infrastructure in place and if the guys who are driving the bus do not know how to get there it is a real problem. That level of detail is in place, there will be experienced drivers. Again, the lesson from Sydney is managing expectations, people did use public transport to get around. We are using that expertise in terms of the teams to actually help drive that forward. It can be very small things like experienced drivers but that can cause havoc if you have not thought about it. I think there is good planning in place and good contingency planning.

Mrs Golding

  446. Many years ago I had the pleasure of living in Manchester for quite some time. At that time the City was dead, it was dying, there was no regeneration. Going around in the bus yesterday I kept coming across sites and saying "What has happened there? What has happened there? That has disappeared. You have got new buildings there. That old building that was crumbling has been regenerated." It was a real, real experience and nobody can place a price on having the Games in this City on further regeneration and pride in what is a great City. I was so pleased that we had the opportunity to go round and see what is happening. But, having said that, it is an enormous area of responsibility that you have in proving that these great international events do not have to be held in London. My question is how are you going to get the media on the site to do that? They are the greatest spreaders of doom and gloom ever. What we really need is a press and people who say "We are doing something for the Commonwealth. We are hosting the Commonwealth. We are going to be the Commonwealth for the time of these Games." You have said also that areas in the North West were adopting countries and the problem you had was distance. My constituency is not that distant, Newcastle-under-Lyme is just down the motorway, and yet we have had no great input in what is happening in Manchester. I would be so pleased if in fact you could start spreading that very quickly so we can play our part in what is going to be a very good international event?  (Mr McCartney) I am hopeful that today is a watershed, that in a very transparent way we have been able to show there is a quite clear and big ambition and that the partnership work will work together to deliver this. The missing pieces of the jigsaw, outside of the regional press, have been the focus of the national press but maybe that focus is simply because it is 500 days away. I am confident in the end it will happen. We have a job to do and we have to provide them with materials so they get a good on-going relationship. One of the areas we will impact on and improve significantly over the coming short period, is how we provide to the national press and that is a lesson to learn.  (Mr Allen) We want to throw down the gauntlet to the press and say do not write about it unless you have been to Manchester, do not comment on it until you have come here and seen it. There are a lot of people sitting in London making comments about the Games and about the facilities and they have never been here. I think the key message is they should come here and see what is being done and feel the atmosphere, not only in the facilities but feel the City, as you have done. I do hope, as the Minister has said, this is a watershed in terms of communication and people should not comment on it until they have seen what is happening and felt the passion that hopefully you have got from the organisers here today.

  447. In Australia what happened as they were coming up to the Olympics was that every other city felt part of it and felt the glow of pride in it. We need all the cities in the United Kingdom to feel that as well. I must say that still we have no indication in Stoke-on-Trent of all these things which are going on in Manchester. We really have to get them on board.  (Mr Allen) One of the things which worked incredibly well in Australia was the Torch Relay. What that meant was that rather than just the flame going through the City, all the regional authorities, all the cities, came up with their own event, and what it did was build a level of excitement because Adelaide wanted to do it better than Sydney, and if we can get that excitement around the Baton Relay that will be the thing which would ignite it. That has to be coupled with using the media to follow that up and show people how exciting Britain is, to actually go to Ireland, Scotland, to go to the North East, the North West, as part of that process. I think there is a fantastic opportunity here where we can demonstrate this is an exciting country. The flame did that for Australia and I think we can do something even more exciting and get behind the whole Baton Relay and use it as an opportunity to communicate the message this is a really exciting country to visit, Scotland is different from the North East, different from the North West. In Australia they did that through fantastic images—you saw the flame going round, you saw the Outback, you saw the City, wonderful images of Australia—and I think that is something we could do and be part of the whole planning process, and that is something which is uppermost on our agenda.

  448. How many cities have you spoken to?  (Mr Allen) Basically the thinking is that there will be 50 locations, linking it into the Queen's Jubilee celebrations. What we want to do is go forward with an agreed package and plan as part of the detailed planning process now. If that is agreed, we will make it an open invitation to talk to those cities and regions which want to be involved.  (Councillor Leese) There is also the Spirit of Friendship Festival which should be launched around about March next year. It is a national festival, obviously culminating in the Games in Manchester, and that will be an opportunity for education, sport and culture and for very, very widescale involvement. There are already plans, for example, for a Youth Games in all the regions of the United Kingdom which will start to generate a level of involvement. In addition to that really, I will take away one of the suggestions that you have made but in terms of local authority contacts, we have tended so far to concentrate on those local authorities which are within the boundaries of the North West of England. A lot of those have appointed liaison officers to work with us and so on. It will make sense to do that in radiating rings and we will go to other areas which are geographically adjacent and spread out. I will certainly take that away.


  449. On my way into the Town Hall this morning I passed a poster which clarified the relationship of Sydney and Manchester and made it clear which was the superior one. Of course I pass Oxford Road Railway Station for which Sydney Opera House is a rip off. Could I thank Manchester City Council once again for providing the facilities for this evidence session. Could I thank all the witnesses for the very frank and forthcoming answers they have provided. Could I make clear, in case there was any doubt, that while it is the responsibility and duty of the members of the Select Committee to ask probing questions on behalf of the taxpayers whom we represent there can be no doubt whatever that every member of this Select Committee wants the Commonwealth Games to be a great success for Manchester and for the whole of our country. Thank you very much.  (Mr McCartney) Thank you.

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