Implications for public funds
The cancellation of the National Athletics Centre
at Picketts Lock, taken together with the removal of athletics
from a Wembley national stadium, has apparently left athletics
in the UK bereft of any legacy investment for the sport and without
the capacity to host an event such as the World Championships.
In the words of UK Athletics "Following the decision to cancel
the Picketts Lock project, UK Athletics is left without a venue
for the World Championships and without a legacy for the sport."
Even if Sheffield is successful in its bid for the 2005 games,
UK Athletics is doubtful about the legacy that an improved Don
Valley Stadium would represent. In concluding their evidence UK
Athletics wrote, however, that "We are working closely with
both DCMS and Sport England to define a substantial capital and
revenue legacy investment package for the development of all levels
of athletics in this country, and we look forward to a joint announcement
on this in early December."
The outcome of the Picketts Lock saga in terms of
public expenditure and Lottery funding has then yet to unfold.
The Government has confirmed to the Committee that development
work on Picketts Lock cost £2 million, 0.5 million of which
was funded by the Lee Valley PRA (about 5% of its annual budget)
with the balance, £1.5 million, coming from Sport England
(drawn down from the total Lottery fund envelope of £67 million).
Feasibility work is a legitimate part of the development of large
projects but it is particularly galling for £1.5 million
of Lottery money to be expended in this way when calls on the
Fund are so many and fewer lottery tickets are being sold.
The Lee Valley RPA has written to the Government asking for compensation
for expenditure incurred on Picketts Lock and the Secretary of
State is giving "very careful consideration" to this.
We note evidence from the London Borough of Enfield asking for
consideration of an equivalent request.
Other budgets have been brought into play and there
was an indicative allocation of £8 million from the Capital
Modernisation Fund for Picketts Lock. It is likely that £4
million of that funding will stay with Lee Valley.
The authority may justifiably feel that this grant has been earned
but we would be concerned if damage were done to the aims and
strategy of the CMF in the name of compensation or sympathy for
Lee Valley, however much this may be deserved.
We recommend that the Government, in replying
to this Report, set out in full the direct, indirect and associated
expenditures of public money arising out of the cancellation of
Picketts Lock, including such items as the legacy investments
referred to by UK Athletics and the compensation sought by Lee
Valley and Enfield Council.