Select Committee on Scottish Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 160-179)


22 NOVEMBER 2005

  Q160  Mr McGovern: We have already heard in the opening questions that the venues are now more or less settled, they were settled as part of the bid. What do you think are the most important and significant ways that Scotland could best benefit from the Olympics?

  Ms Bracewell: There are two big ways. First of all for sport, there is a chance to do something really special and to capture the enthusiasm and demand for sport that the Olympics is going to unleash, and we should be able to involve communities in the Olympics, whether it is through the torch parade, whether it is through educational or cultural programmes. For us in Scotland we have got Sport 21 which is a national sporting strategy which says that by 2020 60% of the adult population will take part in sport once a week. There is an awful lot that goes to make that happen, so what we would hope is that 2012 is a big staging point on the way to 2020, so that by then we would hope we have got the facilities, the infrastructure in terms of people and coaches, in place to be able to capitalise on that demand and educational programmes as well. So there will be a huge benefit to sport and indeed we have been speaking to the Scottish Executive as to what finance is required to really do this properly, but there is a big chance there. Where the big economic benefits are, are in the fields of tourism and business, because within the business structures there will obviously be construction contracts, contracts for materials, contracts for the goods. If LOCOG is going to build a village the whole of the flats are going to have to get kitted out with furniture and fixtures and then there are all the contracts during the Games themselves for the supply of goods. There are going to be so many contracts around, but there are going to be two themes—cultural themes and environmental themes. For example, Hi-Fly, a Scottish company who designed all the banners for the bid, produces banners that are sustainable and can be reused and therefore they have won this contract and they have discovered that they are one of the only businesses in the world who do this and, as a result, they have had to scale up their business to meet the demand. There will be all kinds of products that may come out just as an environmental theme for the Olympics for Scottish companies to grow on the back of, as well as just the contracts that will come for that four weeks of the Olympics and the Paralympics through that summer, and then all the contracts in the lead-up to just get everything ready. So I think there is a huge business benefit. Yorkshire did an analysis and they reckoned it was about £600 million to Yorkshire just on a pure population basis—what is the population of Britain, what is our share of it, 600 million. If you look at the net benefit from the Commonwealth Games in 2014—and we have not got the same cost structure because we are not paying for the Olympics—Scotland should be able to come up with huge benefits for business as well as our sporting legacy.

  Q161  Mr McGovern: I understand. Still on the work of the Nations and Regions Group and notwithstanding what you say that Beijing is the Olympic city so you are not able to jump the gun, are you able to bring this Committee up to date with any progress that has been made or decisions reached by the group. Is it in line with the strategy that you mentioned earlier?

  Ms Bracewell: The Nations and Regions Group, as in the British Nations and Regions Group, that is doing what it said it would do in its first meeting in January, and the strategies and the plans will really be worked up from then on forward, because it is still early days on that. Within Scotland I have been asked to chair the 2012 Scottish steering group and we have identified all the different key agencies that we want on the group. We have identified how it will work through different sub-groups looking at sport, one looking at business and tourism and another looking at culture and education. So that is all going according to plan and, clearly, the quicker we can get that group together, the quicker we can start devising the strategies that are needed to optimise these benefits. I have got a chance to speak next week to various NDPBs[1] and local authorities and there is a big meeting going on about 2014. We are going to use that as well to talk about benefits from 2012 and start raising the profile there, getting people thinking about how do we actually optimise all this for Scotland ourselves.

  Mr McGovern: Thank you very much.

  Q162  Mr Davidson: Can I ask you about the relationship between the Olympics and Glasgow's Commonwealth Games bid; can you just tell us how you see the two linking together, and does having the Olympics make Glasgow a cert for the Commonwealth Games?

  Ms Bracewell: There has been a huge voting analysis done on the Commonwealth Games and, in a way, we are in a very, very good position to win that and it is ours to lose in a way. We are up against Nigeria, and Canada will decide soon which city it will nominate. We have a bit of a march on everybody and the plans are all in place for Melbourne in 2006, when the Commonwealth Games are on, to try and start winning the votes that will be needed to win the 2014 Games. I see amazing synergies between the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and the Olympics in 2012, and I think we can learn an awful lot from London. In a previous life I was on the board of Sport England in the lead-up to the Manchester bid for the Commonwealth Games and once Sydney got its Olympics out of the way this group of Australians arrived to take Manchester on. I think that this time what we should be able to do is place Scots into the Olympics who will be making sure that there is a way for us to learn what is happening, and then it will be Scots that organise the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

  Q163  Mr Davidson: Manchester did not get it.

  Ms Bracewell: This was the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games. They did not go through the Olympics bid process this time, but it was how did you organise the Commonwealth Games and a lot of the knowledge in that was Australian and English. Once we have done the London Olympics that knowledge, that intellectual legacy on how to run these events will sit, hopefully, within British and Scottish people, so that when it comes to running the Commonwealth Games in 2014, we are the people that organise the Games and then in years to come run other events around the world in the way the Australians have done.

  Q164  Mr Davidson: I just want to be clear though, you are saying that having the Olympics in London will make a tremendous difference to Glasgow's chances of getting the Commonwealth Games.

  Ms Bracewell: There are two things. Remember that Scotland in a Commonwealth setting is very separate to England and there is no doubt we will be able to say we can give you a good Games because we will have all this experience. The only time it has ever been done before, where there has been an Olympics and a Commonwealth within two years, was in Canada, so any argument that Canada might have used that this was not a good thing goes, because they have done it. I see amazing opportunities once you have got our sports people through, doing well on the Olympic stage, then coming home and putting on a Scottish tracksuit and walking into Hampden—it is just something incredible that will really ignite the nation. So I think the Commonwealth Games becomes even more important for Scotland following on from an Olympics, because just the amount we will have learned in terms of performance sport, in terms of how the Games work, the Scottish businesses will get a second chance to do exactly the same types of things that they have already done, so for me the Commonwealth is the real icing for Scotland. I do not think we can lose by it, to be honest.

  Q165  Mr MacDougall: You mentioned to my honourable friend Jim McGovern that there are business benefits that could come to Scotland from the Games, and we have been told that two Scottish companies have indeed been successful in winning contracts to produce the bid document and to supply flags and banners and so on and so forth. You mentioned yourself the peace and tranquillity aspect of selling Scotland as a place that would be very attractive to actually have camps in; in that respect, how much influence can you place as LOCOG in terms of influencing companies in that way, to say this is the location to invest in, this is the best place, bearing in mind that you have some tremendous opportunities ahead for building structures et cetera—despite the fact that they may not want to build new all the time, they maybe want to invest in existing premises, but there will be opportunities for new build as well. In that respect will you have a role to play there or do you think that will be outwith your remit?

  Ms Bracewell: If it is new buildings within Scotland that we are talking about, obviously to the extent that we need those facilities generally we should build them. If we are talking about building a facility for just the Olympic Games or as a way of maybe attracting a holding camp, or a preparation camp, that probably would not be economically viable, so it is more about building the facilities that we need generally for sport and then using the benefit of the fact that there might be some other people coming to that. Where Scottish business wins is in being a supplier of goods or services into LOCOG, and I think that is where we need to do a huge job in communicating how business can get involved in that, what the timetables for bids are, if it is right that if you can add an environmental, cultural or educational theme to your bid you are likely to do well. I am sure that in Scotland having the people round the table that we are going to have within this group, we should be able to produce ideas for cultural programmes, educational programmes etc. That is where I see the big business benefits, rather than building new build facilities just for 2012.

  Q166  Mr Walker: There is a huge differential in participation rates in Scotland between rich and poor. What are you going to do to narrow that gap and how are you going to work with local authorities to do that?

  Ms Bracewell: We have a huge issue here. Declining participation rates are happening worldwide, so we are not alone. It even happens in the mighty Australia, but that is all part of our Sport 21 programme. We have recently put in this great programme called Active Schools which is a way of getting schoolchildren more active—walking to school, playing in the playground—and it is also about PE, getting two hours of quality PE and about running extracurricular activities. To run those extracurricular activities you need coaches and volunteers to come in, so this programme is actually kick-starting all kinds of community initiatives. There are now coordinators in virtually every secondary school in Scotland, and in clusters of primary schools to do this, and once we start turning around the trend of children not being active, we are beginning to cut into declining participation rates. We have obviously got facilities and programmes going on and there is also work at sportscotland. We have been very good at the active schools bit and also the elite bit, we are very good at elite sport, but there is this huge bit in the middle that has not really been tackled, and for that we are piloting programmes called regional partnerships where we will bring clubs, coaches, governing bodies and the local authorities together to come up with facility plans and development plans for clubs to try and get this whole middle ground moving and to really increase participation that way.

  Q167  Mr Walker: Is there anything you are doing on diet because diet plays such an important part. I mean, doing an hour of sport a week is ruined if you have chips seven days a week.

  Ms Bracewell: That is not sportscotland's role.

  Q168  Mr Walker: I know, but are you linking with the local authorities?

  Ms Bracewell: Yes. What is unique about Active Schools around the world is that sport education and health are coming together, so part of Active Schools is about proper diets as well. It is not necessarily our bit of the programme, but it is in that programme.

  Q169  Mr Walker: What is more important, creating elite athletes or getting as many people as possible participating in sport as often as possible within Scottish society?

  Ms Bracewell: I do not think you can have one without the other. To get people participating you need role models and you need them to think that they could be great. Even at our own age I expect we still think we could win the local club badminton championships or whatever it is, and you will not get the elite without really strong participation because our elite is only as good as the base of the pyramid at the bottom. The two of them completely go together and if you have any doubt about it, just look at what Andy Murray has done for tennis. We have got Tennis Scotland screaming for more development officers to cope with the huge demand that has come just as a result of Andy's success. That is one of the huge challenges for us with the Olympics in that we know we are going to win medals in sports in which we have never won them before, we know that we are going to get surprise results. Too often after an Olympic Games a sport has said we were not ready for that. Take curling, curling won their Olympic medal in March and at the end of the curling season they had no way to capitalise on that. Is English cricket going to capitalise on the Ashes going into the winter? For us, a lot of it is making sure that the governing bodies and everybody are ready to capitalise on that demand when it all comes through. That I think is what is exciting about the Olympics, it is something we all would have loved to have done in sport, to tackle participation and everything. We have a chance now to do it because sport has gone higher up the agenda.

  Q170  Mr Walker: Take a punt, where are we going to win medals? In which sports are we going to win medals where we have not won medals before?

  Ms Bracewell: We are going to have to win them in all kinds of sports where we have not won them before because the BOA wants us to come fourth in the Olympics and top in the Paralympics. To just give you some idea about that, we won 20 medals in Athens and we are going to have to win about 60 or 70 to come fourth in the table. Our bankers, like the rowing, sailing, cyclings of this world can maybe add one or two, but they cannot triple their medal haul, so we have to start looking at judo—I would love my own sport, fencing, to produce a medal, but I do not know if they will—and hockey. People like that have not won a medal for a while, but then we have also got a whole raft of sports that have never competed in an Olympics before where, maybe, we cannot get them a medal but we can get them credible success, and that is your basketballs, volleyballs and handballs. If they go and then come eighth or ninth it will be an incredible result and will set that sport up to go forward, so we are sitting down trying to plan where all the medals will come from and in Scotland we are also looking at what are the sports where there is maybe an easier medal, could we hothouse people in them? People say to you that if you are a female heavyweight rower then there is a medal on offer, so can we find some heavyweight rowers to go through. We are all sitting trying to figure out what that is and talking to our performance directors in each sport saying "Do you think you can get there in time?"

  Q171  Mr Davidson: Could I just follow up the point about the differentiation between the take-up of sport, and I understand your point about the success of Andy Murray drawing in a whole number of youngsters, but it would be a fair bet to say that the vast majority of those are middleclass youngsters from comfortable backgrounds, who already have access to some sort of facilities, rather than being youngsters from poor backgrounds without access to this sort of thing, who have never done it before and never seen a live tennis match and so on and so forth. Is there any effort that you are making deliberately to focus on those who are from the poorest backgrounds, in the most deprived area? In a constituency like mine, you see, I see little evidence of it; I see lots of organisations where volunteers spend a lot of time scrabbling about trying to raise money to fund t-shirts and so on for the teams, but they just give up because they do not come forward to be volunteers if they have to raise money to keep the teams going. I do not see them getting the sort of support that middleclass areas take for granted.

  Ms Bracewell: There are some interesting things going on. First of all we have got to have the facilities and the people to take all these youngsters through. If we can open up the schools in Scotland, making facilities accessible and affordable, we can start changing it around. In various parts of Glasgow they are running community clubs now, so we have a whole host of clubs coming into the schools, paying nothing, so we have then got the facilities and we have got somewhere for the clubs to go, because in some of these deprived areas or poorer areas they have not actually got the local facilities. If we can start opening schools, start doing this multi-club approach so that the admin does not put people off, then we will start getting some synergies. One of the goals within Sport 21 is to increase participation in social inclusion partnership areas. I know SIPs are going and as part of our review of Sport 21, we will look at how we tackle those same areas where there is social deprivation and try and get those children involved. There have been examples like Kilwinning, where there has been all kindof investment made to upgrade the pitcher and get different clubs off the ground. That has been a big success story and we need to repeat it in other places. So we are trying, and if we had a lot more resource I am sure we could do a lot more.

  Q172  Ms Clark: We heard evidence from COSLA last week and they referred to the significant role played by local authorities in promoting tourism and also discussed what the tourist potential was surrounding the Olympic Games. How are you working with local authorities in planning to promote Scotland to encourage even more tourists to come to Scotland around the Olympic Games?

  Ms Bracewell: COSLA will have a place on the Scottish coordinating group and VisitScotland and EventScotland will be on that group as well. Certainly one of the sub-groups is charged with looking at how do we maximise tourism benefits to Scotland, so I would imagine that COSLA will be highly involved in that. Hopefully next week when we speak to COSLA we will start getting some of those ideas coming back as well.

  Mr Williams: It is very early to have a tourism strategy in place. I'm sure VisitBritain will develop a UK strategy and then home countries will develop their own complimentary strategies. Scotland is presently putting its structure in place with an Olympic 2012 fulltime secretariat and taskforce chaired by Julia.

  Q173  Chairman: You will have heard about C-ScOT's campaign for a separate Scottish Olympic team. Julia, as was said in my introduction, you have represented both the UK and Scotland. Are not C-ScOT missing the point; is it not possible to be both Scottish and British and to be proud to represent both teams?

  Ms Bracewell: I think so. Personally, when I went to Barcelona, 50% of our ladies' fencing team were Scottish and 50% were English, and we all worked there together, we had British tracksuits and as you enter the opening ceremony you remember where you have come from in life as you walk on that track. So I believe that you can be Scottish and British. We must not forget that the London Olympics is going to give us automatic qualification, as Britain, to many of the events, so sports such as handball, volleyball, basketball that would not otherwise qualify today, will take part in the Games. We have a chance to get Scots who play those sports into an Olympic Games through a combined British team, and that is huge. We will have more chance of getting more Scots in the team and more medals without going through the European zone which, with the greatest respect to the southern hemisphere, is the hardest zone to qualify through because we have got all those former Soviet countries, we have Germany, France and Italy who are always in the top ten nations, so we would be doing a bit of a disservice if we went a completely Scottish Olympic route when we had this golden opportunity to get Scots there through the automatic qualification.

  Q174  Chairman: Is it not the case that, as far as the Olympics are concerned, the total is greater than the sum of its constituent parts, and that the best way to ensure success by UK athletes is to have a single UK team?

  Ms Bracewell: I believe so, absolutely. I sit on the board of UK Sport, the body for elite sport, and a request for extra funding has gone to DCMS to deliver this medal success. If that money comes then Scotland will benefit in a way that we could not, just as a purely Scottish team, so I think that absolutely it will be better. If you look at Chris Hoy and Shirley Robertson, they were fundamental to success in their teams. Even though Chris got an individual medal, the fact that he is around cycling helps raise cycling and Shirley obviously was in a boat with two English girls. I am absolutely convinced that if we pick the best in Britain—and my job at sportscotland is to ensure that the best of Britain includes as many Scots as possible—then we will do much better in the Olympics than if they all went for separate nations.

  Q175  Mr Davidson: There are two points in that which I must confess I do not quite understand. Can you just clarify for me this point about fencing, which I understand could be an individual sport. I do not see what difference it made to you as an individual competing whether or not you were part of a Scottish team or part of a UK team, in terms of your ability against someone else. Maybe you can just clarify that for me.

  Ms Bracewell: I suppose it did not make any difference when I was fencing individually, it did not matter whether I wore a Scottish or a British tracksuit, I could only do what I could do. When it came to home internationals or international team events, sometimes we went as Scotland, sometimes we went as Britain, and we did better in a British team than we did in a Scottish team. We probably fought with a lot more pride in the Scottish team, but the result was better in the British team.

  Q176  Mr Davidson: Can you just clarify for us why that is?

  Ms Bracewell: I do not know what it is. I grew up to do home internationals from an age of 13 or 14 where Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales come together and have fencing team events. It was huge, and Scotland versus Wales was always the best match with the best atmosphere; it is the same when you watch Scotland and Wales at Murrayfield—something magical happens when you put a Scottish jersey or Scottish tracksuit on your back. It is something to do with pride and culture, national pride, or something. I do not know what it is, but it is special. To compete in the Olympic Games I am happy to put a British tracksuit on to do that and do the best I can for Britain.

  Q177  Mr Davidson: Can I clarify whether or not you are saying to us that in some sports like fencing there are not enough Scots of top quality to be able to provide as it were a Scottish team of top quality, whereas if you are drawing from a larger pool you are able to get a critical mass which then does allow you to compete as a team at a world level?

  Ms Bracewell: That is right. The top British fencer today who made the Olympic final is a Scot which proves that we are doing okay with that, but you do need a wider pool, you need as wide a pool as you can get. If we decided to hothouse then maybe we could pick sports off and hothouse Scots through a system, but really we are going to do better with as big a pool of talent as we can achieve.

  Q178  Mr Davidson: The other point you made that I did not quite understand was I think you mentioned handball and some other things where there was automatic qualification which would not happen for Scotland; I must admit I did not quite understand that at all.

  Ms Bracewell: Within the Olympics, because the Olympics can only cater for a limited number of athletes and events, many events are actually much smaller than world cups or world championships. In most events you only get 12 nations taking part in an Olympics, so you have to pre-qualify through. When you are the host nation you get automatic qualification so you do not have to qualify through Europe. Today we know we will have a British basketball, British volleyball and British handball team in, so whereas we would not qualify through tournaments in Europe today we know those teams will automatically qualify for 2012. So now we can do whatever it is that we have to do to get that team to perform credibly on that day.

  Q179  Mr Davidson: Let me be clear that I understand this. Taking handball and basketball, you are saying—without wishing to be unfair—the quality of players available in Scotland for a separate Scottish handball or basketball team means that they would not qualify as one of the top 11 or 12 or so through the European route to go to the Olympic Games. Could you give us a list—unless you are able to recite it off just now—of how many sports to which that might apply? I have never heard of this before and I think it would be helpful if we knew that there were, say, 10 sports or 15 sports where a separate Scottish team are not likely to qualify and therefore there would be no Scots participating, whereas by having a UK team there would be the opportunity for Scots to participate?

  Ms Bracewell: It is the British basketball team today that would not qualify, but it is not just whether the Scottish team would qualify but whether the British team would qualify. What we are saying is now that we have got automatic selection—this is a political decision, this is something that DCMS, the UK Government, can decide to change around by how much money it gives to performance sports. We could say that in those sports, because we have got automatic qualification, we do not want to be embarrassed, we do not want an Eddie the Eagle approach, but because we have got the opportunity to enter these sports in the Olympics, we are going to enter them and we are going to put into place performance directors, coaches, all the support that they have never had, because what has happened in sport in the past when it has been under-resourced is if you are not a good sport you have not had money invested in you, so now we have this golden opportunity to take sports that otherwise have not been looked after up to another level, and that will contribute to a huge legacy in doing that.

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