Government buys 9,000 2012 tickets to entertain dignitaries

18 02 2011

A bit of an exclusive by me in today’s Telegraph, showing that officials will plough at least £750,000 of public money into games tickets because they believe it “would be wrong” not to and will be for the “benefit of the whole of the UK”. These tickets will be used by politicians and Westminster mandarins to entertain international guests, foreign dignitaries like royalty, business leaders and people they claim have strong links with the Olympic movement and London 2012. BoJo also has a 2,000 allocation but is yet to decide what to do.

Please take a look here: LINK


LOCOG don’t like it up ’em

8 12 2010

I watched this morning’s Plenary with some anticipation, hoping, at last, that this was the opportunity for Olympics management to answer key questions without hiding.

I must add I have been in a 6-month or so battle with the ODA over some FOIs, some I’ve won, some I’ve lost, but always after a review.

LOCOG have been protected from such scrutiny, so Sebastian Coe and Paul Deighton being there was great, well it could have been.

I was disappointed. Far too often, when a tough question was asked, they reverted to ‘you don’t understand the Olympics do you?’ mode, or ‘you are either with us or against us’ mode. Poor.

This was highlighted by an exchange between Mike Tuffrey and Paul Deighton about the number of cheap event tickets to be available to adults during the games.

This is because Mike and others believe that there will be 2.5 million tickets available at £20 or less for the Olympics.

But of these:

· 1 million will be for football matches

· 1.3 million are for the ‘Pay Your Age’ scheme for children

This, in theory, leaves just 200,000 tickets for events other than football, which I think ,if true, is a disgrace for a Games that Londoners have paid extra for.

I say if true because Mr Deighton bumbled on for several minutes in ‘you don’t understand mode’ before the Lib Dems ran out of time so couldn’t ask any more. Boris does that sometimes doesn’t he?!

Anyway, round two starts tomorrow at the Assembly, with more questions on ticketing and I hope there are more answers than today.

What to do with the Olympic Stadium?

8 06 2010

City Hall’s EDCST committee were told by experts today that it should be football played in the Olympic Stadium after 2012 and I am inclined to agree with them.

Whether it be West Ham or someone else like Spurs, a Premier League club is needed to make it a success after the games.

It will get lots of people coming into the park on top of those using the other facilities and most importantly in my view take the pressure off the public purse and put the risk on the private sector.

Assembly members grilled media expert Danny Meaney, regeneration expert Dr Jim Coleman,and Dr Larissa Davies from Sheffield Hallam University on what would be best for the stadium and how to create a successful legacy.

They all said that the stadium has to be used often or it will fail, and that football was the obvious choice to fill it.

Interestingly MK Dons chairman Pete Winkleman was also there, and said that football was the way forward but with the caveat that there is a need to retain an athletics track as this was what was promised and promises should be kept.

But while I agree that promises are important we should also be realistic, especially with the public finances in a dire state.

Although European clubs do play in stadiums with tracks around their pitches, in the Premier League clubs want their fans to be as close to the action as possible.

I may be wrong but I think that if they leave a track a big football club may not be so keen to move in and then the taxpayer could be left bailing out a white elephant.

It would be nice to a have a fantastic and sparkling permanent athletics venue for the future but it looks like it just does not make financial sense.

Olympics bosses are hiding…

20 04 2010

There is a massive democratic black hole when it comes to the Olympics.

Tuesday is London 2012 day for me, and I have spent a  lot of time trawling through documents, Hansard, Greater London Assembly minutes, well, as much public paperwork as I can find that will tell me something not in a lame press release.

I have come to the conclusion that the Olympic Delivery Authority simply does not want us to know what they are up to and most importantly what exactly it is spending OUR money on.

They will not let you attend their board meetings because they say they discuss so many things that must be kept secret. But they say they will publish up to date and detailed minutes on each of those meetings.

Today is April 20, 2010 and the latest minutes are from a meeting in November 2009. Not only that the minutes contain a meagre maximum 3 pages of gobbledygook using as many acronyms as possible per sentence.

For example :“The Chief Executive explained that negotiations on the second tranche of MTO2, which would run from January 2010 – July 2011, were ongoing. Extensive due diligence had been done on the contract. The CLM resource plan for the period represented a substantial reduction in manpower and brought the overall costs within the available budget for CLM’s existing scope.” – Thanks for clearing that up.

A story in today’s Standard shows the fight that people have on their hands to get any information at all. They don’t want to be found out.

Of course, you lot are spending more than £7 billion of taxpayers money but we really should kept out of it. Thanks. A. Lot.