Examination of Witnesses (Questions 100
TUESDAY 16 OCTOBER 2001
100. I think the root problem is clearthat
we really need multi-purpose stadia but the incompatibility of
football with athletics means that it is very difficult to get
all these agencies together to take that forward. Someone else
was saying earlier on that the cities want to do this as part
of a regeneration project, and that is understandable, and somehow
we have got to find a way of making sure that all the agencies
work together with the Government. I agree with you, I do not
think any of it would work without some public investment, I think
that is a necessary part of it. There has to be something coming
back to the people and that is why the cities get involved. On
a specific question though, as a result of your review the Government
are saying Sheffield is the preferred option. Did you really look
at Edinburgh as a possible alternative? Could you give us an idea
why you rejected it?
(Mr Carter) We looked at eight alternatives
to Picketts Lock of which Edinburgh was one. The same thing really
applies to Edinburgh as to Crystal Palace. It would have to be
a complete rebuild. When we looked at the site, particularly aerial
pictures of the site, we thought it would be extremely difficult
to get a stadium of 43,000 people onto the site together with
a warm-up track onto the site. And, secondly, it was a question
of time-tabling. If you recall, when we were looking at this in
the summer of this year we had four years to go to the staging
of the event, and just looking at the timetables you probably
need six to nine months to plan and six months at the other end
to dry run it to make sure it is all going to work. One of the
things about a site like Edinburgh, on top of the difficulty of
fitting it all on site, was an issue of time-tabling. If we withdrew
from Picketts Lock and we had a go at something else and that
failed that would be an issue. There were two issues; site constraint
and time tabling.
101. That does not really fit with what the previous
Wembley people were saying. They were saying they would do the
whole thing within 39 months. What you are saying does not tie
in with what they are saying.
(Mr Carter) The Wembley people said they
could build it in 39 months, that is starting on site all the
way through to handing it over, that is the construction period.
If you look at the four years, taking Edinburgh, this stadium
would be simpler so it would be 24 months or 30 months but still
you would be running into tightness each end. One of the things
to learn from this is that there is a danger always in bidding
for an event if you have not got a stadium because everything
is against you and you have this "drop dead" date when
you must open it, so all the prices move against you and all the
pressures to pour money into it will move against you and it makes
it that much harder to manage. That is one of the things we wanted
to make sure of; the deliverability was the key to this. Would
we get it on time and would it work when we got it?
102. If the viewand it is a big "if"is
that governments should be involved in projects of this kindand
I certainly take the view that successive governments in this
country do not seem to do a particularly good job of itare
there lessons to be learned from other countries? You mentioned
the United States and of course France is also renowned for these
major projects. I get the impression from my French friends that
they are very good at that sort of thing, delivering projects
on time and on budget. Have you looked at the French model and
other models and are there lessons for successive United Kingdom
Governments about how we can develop projects, whether they be
sporting events, British libraries, Domes, and do them on time
(Mr Carter) We did look at the experience
of France. If you take the biggest example, which is the Stade
de France, it is architecturally a great success and events
wise a great success, but financially a great problem requiring
an on-going subsidy from the French Government to maintain it.
So the role of the Government was central to that and the role
of the Government supporting it going forward means it is a model
which we would find some difficulty in gaining support for. It
goes back to this earlier question of can you find a legacy that
makes the investment self-supporting? Can you afford the capital?
Can you afford the revenue expenditure to keep it going? To enter
into something where you have to find both is probably a bit demanding.
103. I do not know whether you were here for
the evidence of Wembley National Stadium Limited but you will
have heard that they thought it unlikely if they were given the
go-ahead now that they could complete the Wembley Stadium in time
for 2005. Do you wish with hindsight that they had been given
the go-ahead for this and that Wembley would have indeed been
the right location?
(Mr Carter) That is a straying into the
Wembley area which I am trying not to do. I think the only point
in giving any go-ahead to a national stadium is when it is on
a proper footing, and until it is on a proper footing letting
it go forward would be a mistake because it will always come back
and cause problems.
104. That sounds like you are saying whether
it was Wembley Stadium or anywhere else, the whole project was
a non-starter from day one.
(Mr Carter) It is like all these things,
it is in the detail. I think people can buy concepts; they are
very easy and very dangerous. The question is when you take it
to pieces, is it robust enough to come out as you thought it would
when you have done it? That is obviously the reason we are reviewing
105. That does raise as existentialist question,
does it not? If you are asking what to build as legacy projects,
the answer has got to be arts centres. The Lowry Centre is an
enormous success, exceeding any estimates of how many people would
attend there. This Committee went to Newark, New Jersey where
they built an arts centre which utterly regenerated the area,
full of people. We went to Brisbane, the same thing there. You
build an arts centre and people are going to go there every day
of the year. You build a stadium and, with the best will in the
world, it is going to be empty most of the time, is it not?
(Mr Carter) I suppose the answer is different
people go to stadiums than go to arts centres so it is a question
106. Mr Carter, you are an extraordinarily knowledgeable
person but I do recommend you look a little farther into it.
(Mr Carter) I know what you are saying,
Chairman, but there are different audiences who have different
Michael Fabricant: I think the point
the Chairman is making, and of course you are right, there are
different audiences, is that whereas an arts centre is open all
the time for events, athletics stadiums are not, so there is a
continuous point. I would make the point that the Committee also
went to Barcelona and to Atlanta, both building stadiums, both
doing Olympic bids and both benefiting.
Chairman: Not Atlanta. Barcelona yes.
107. You talked about the point being in the
detail and I wanted to ask you about a particular point of detail
in your own report because UK Athletics has challenged you on
one point. I will read you one sentence in their evidence. It
says: "It should be noted that in early 2000 when the concept
of a national athletics centre was first discussed, and before
a site had been found, the ball-park figures cited were £92
million to £122 million. There has never been a belief that
it could be delivered for £60 million." And they accuse
there of being a misconception about the original budget. Would
you like to respond to that?
(Mr Carter) I do not recognise £60
million. The number we were looking at was around £97 million.
That was what we were working from and then we got the quantity
surveyors to look at it and check it and we increased that by
4.9 million and put a contingency on top of that based on the
experience of the Manchester Stadium and the Millennium Stadium,
Cardiff, both of which experienced some cost creep. The £60
million figure is not a figure I recognise.
108. Thank you for that. So, Mr Carter, where
do we go from here? Do you think we are going to get the 2005
bid? Is it going to be Sheffield. If it is not, is it going to
be another location or should we just forget about it and move
(Mr Carter) Clearly Sheffield could mount
a good bid. It has got a very good stadium, it has got the transport,
it has got the infrastructure, all the things that were absent
at Picketts Lock. Whether the IAAF wants to go to a city like
Sheffield remains to be seen. Their position is it has to go back
out to bid again and other cities may have stronger claims.
109. Indeed the IAAF might say the United Kingdom
offers London as a glamorous city or, as I said earlier on, a
sexy city in some respects. It is not a rather odd assumption
that they are going to blindly and somewhat weakly accept Sheffield
as an alternative?
(Mr Carter) The fact about Sheffield
is that it is there, it exists.
110. It is convenient for us but it may not be
convenient for the IAAF?
(Mr Carter) That is their choice.
111. This is a slightly facetious question to
start but to make a decision on Picketts Lock as to whether it
is sustainable or not, did it take you five minutes or ten minutes
to make your mind up that it was not sustainable and therefore
not worth doing? It is a slightly facetious and cheeky question.
(Mr Carter) No, it actually took a very
long time because we wanted to be sure in arriving at the decision
that we had unpacked everything, that something could not come
back. If you look at the time we took to satisfy ourselves about
the transport, of course until very late in the day the athletes'
accommodation was much more proximate to where it probably would
end up going in the subsequent proposals. So it took us a long
time to verify everything. There were moments at the beginning
when you looked at the original case when it seemed quite sensible.
It was difficult to find big sites. On the face of it the transport
was there, you have this railway line next to the other track.
And so it goes on. When you gradually got down to the detail of
delivering something that was good, we could have had the event
112. For what purpose? There was hardly any purpose
to have a stadium as big as that for athletics compared to putting
a platform in Wembley. That is what I am talking about. Transport
was not going to be a problem if there were no events to bring
people into the stadium.
(Mr Carter) By the time I was asked to
do this the Wembley option was not there. Because time had passed
the only thing that looked as if it could be delivered was Picketts
Lock. I was focused on that and not looking at whether a platform
worked in Wembley because the time for that had passed.
113. You did say that the money saved on Picketts
Lock should be used to develop athletics somewhere else. I was
in the North East for the Great North Run and Gateshead has a
great enthusiasm for athletics and the feeling is that events
would be taken away to try and justify the sustainability of Picketts
Lock. You seem to be saying that not building Picketts Lock saved
money so there is extra money to spend. That is true in a way.
It is like people say,"I did not buy that suit so I have
saved money for something else." But if there was no need
for the suit in the first place there was no need for the money
to be saved. I am an athletics enthusiast. If you look at it from
an athletics' point of view, athletics events and competition
goes on between people who are enthusiastic about athletics. They
need fairly small stadiums but they need training facilities and
coaches. That is what you seem to be saying, that the money should
be spent on that.
(Mr Carter) That is absolutely right.
114. Why do we ever get anywhere near saying
we need a big stadium, a stadium that is large, expensive and
unsustainable but not big enough for the Olympics?
(Mr Carter) That is where I found myself
in some difficulty because I could find no policy that said why
we did these things. I do not know whether there is a policy to
pursue major events and back them up financially or not and without
that framework it is difficult for me to comment. Everything is
taken one at a time.
115. Could I mention one other point and not
ask you to answer it necessarily. If it had not been for the attempted
bid to get the World Cup in 2006and Wembley, I think, played
a big part in that because of the 1966 thing and everybody knew
that the twin towers were going to be knocked down anywaydo
you think that we would never have considered a massive expensive
stadium had it not been for the World Cup bid? Do not answer it
if you do not want to.
(Mr Carter) That is difficult because
I was not following events at the time of that bid so I am probably
not qualified to offer you a view on that.
116. You said earlier that one of the problems
is we do not cost these bid projects properly and of course the
Chairman has referred to other projects such as art galleries,
although of course not all have succeeded. The Pop Museum in Sheffield
has gone now and we are having difficulties with the Welsh Assembly
Building and the Scottish Parliament Building. My question is
is it possible nowadays to cost something properly, even the capital
process? Every building that I have ever heard about that has
been built anywhere in the world in the last ten years seems to
have gone way over budget, including the spare room I built on
my own house. Is there a problem in the building industry or where
does the problem lie?
(Mr Carter) I think there are a lot of
buildings built in the private sector that do come in on price
on time. That is a commercial fact. It seems more difficult in
the public sector, that is for sure, and what the reasons for
that are I am not altogether certain. It is just an observation
but, on the other hand, there should be no reason why buildings
should not be costed accurately and brought in on time, providing
that there is a rigour in the process, in other words, people
do not change things to other purposes. I think one has to make
sure that the commercial case for any of these developments is
so clear and it is signed up to at the beginningit is amendments
that make things difficultand I do not know whether that
rigour is lacking or what. I think it has got better in the public
sector in my experience in recent years but there is possibly
some way to go.
117. In terms of Picketts Lock whether or not
it was the right decision in the first place, the fact that the
accommodation was going to be in a different place from originally
conceived and, as I understand it, most of the events in the championships
would be taking place at 6.30 in the evening to attract television
viewers and therefore everybody would be travelling on the same
lines as all the commuters in East London, did have a significant
impact, but how do you draw the edges around the project?
(Mr Carter) We need a better understanding
of process. That is the answer to it. If you modelled it at the
beginning you would have asked yourself those questions in the
first place about infrastructure and transport. It is joining
the model up, it is not dealing with it in a series of silos.
118. You say in your report on page 5: "Manchester
2002, Paris and Athens could raise expectations and therefore
specifications for 2005." What does that mean?
(Mr Carter) I think something did occur
in these big events from Sydney on. Sydney changed the way people
perceived how these big events should be run, it upped the game.
From thereafter if you were not going to be compared badly with
Sydney you had to put more into it, your opening and closing ceremonies,
the level of accommodation. Sydney did such a good job that it
was probably the most seamless sporting event that has been developed
and therefore by reference people would not want to fall dramatically
short of that. That is what has pushed it on; standards have risen.
119. Your suggesting that the closing event is
an integral part makes me wonder what the successor to Kylie Minogue
on a giant flip-flop will be in Sheffield.
(Mr Carter) That is interesting to think