Thursday, 19 November 2009

Commonwealth Games 2014

Computerised image of revamped Hampden Park

Glasgow is to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games. These sporting events come at a price and the price of this one is presently more than the cost of the Scottish Parliament. Can you believe anything could ever be more than the cost of our Parliament?

Eleven days of world-class competition will be held in July 2014 and according to Lord Smith, chairman of the Games organising committee, there will be huge opportunities for Scotland as a whole to benefit. I don't see the Games benefitting me in the slightest but if it does help others I'm happy to go with the flow.

What I'm not happy about is the budgeting system for large events such as this. Some anonymous grey suit set the budget for £373 million and that was accepted by all parties concerned. Now the Games partners - the Scottish government, Glasgow City Council and the organising committee - have revealed that the cost has risen by £81 million, over 20%. What is it with public accountants that they have an inherent ability to underestimate every time? The extra money is the cost of delivering the broadcast signal and the failure to sell the domestic rights to the BBC. I don't understand what that means but I'm sure someone will explain.

Not only is it now over budget but the Auditor General has reported some venues are already showing signs of slippage. For example the Cathkin Braes Cycling Course, which will stage mountain biking events, was, according to the original bid document, scheduled for completion by April 2009 but will now only be completed in March 2012.

The Deputy Auditor General, Caroline Gardner said, "In the current economic climate public sector finances are already under pressure and it is essential that the organisers keep costs under control. They need to continue to monitor and review the budget assumptions regularly."

Alex Salmond defended the overspend on FMQs today and stated the Games will cost "only a twentieth of the London Olympics." Maybe, but we need to control the expenditure of this event.

With many new and refurbished venues behind schedule and a budget growing by the day the Games could well be seen in the same light as many view the Edinburgh tram project - a white elephant and a big one. The First Minister may see the Games as a legacy but they will only be seen as such if there are no financial or timing disasters.


JRB said...

Having had to pump an additional £81 million into the kitty, that now takes the current cost to £454 million, and there is still some four and a half years to go.
Lord knows what heights the final costs might reach.

Can’t help but feel that Mr Salmond may have over-extended Scotland’s beleaguered budget on this little show piece.

It is indeed becoming the ‘elephant in the room’ that no one has the courage to mention.

subrosa said...

Alex Salmond talked it up at FMQs today John, but you're right, we have no idea what the final costs will be.

How do these estimators get away with it? I've no idea.

Jeanne Tomlin said...

Let's remember though that the bid to get the CGs was not done under Salmond. And at the time, it was listed as an A event rather than a B one which would have meant greater income from the event which is apparently a large part of why its current problems. (Funny how that happened after the SNP took over)

It was Jack McConnell with the support of the UK government back in August 2005 that made an argument for Glasgow getting them.

By the time the final decision was made, the government had changed. Now was Scotland deliberately undercut after the fact? *shrug*

Darn if I know, but Labour trying to pin all the blame on Salmond is a bit rich. The fact is that now all anyone can do is make the best of it. Personally, I hate these things and think events like the Olympics are pure bosh.

Idle Pen Pusher said...

Congratulations - you get to subsidise officials and rich sports fans' love of sport...

But it could be much worse, as Salmond said. It could be the Olympics.

subrosa said...

I would replace your 'shrug' with a positive yes Jeanne. I'm sure if labour was still in power there wouldn't be any problem with Scotland getting a fair share of the London Olympics regeneration fund (£165m).

I'm not for these things either as they do little for the general wellbeing of the country. They are nine minute wonders and expensive ones at that.

subrosa said...

Oh IPP, don't remind me. It won't being one piece of benefit here in the long term. We don't even have an ice rink within sensible driving distance and haven't had for years.

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