Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Olympic contingency at risk from building cost inflation

Despite the thorough way in which the latest London Olympics Budget was prepared, cost uncertainties are still reflected in the £2.7 billion contingency allowance in £9.3 billion public funding.
This is the principal finding of the U.K. National Audit Office in its otherwise favourable analysis of the budget for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games produced by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport earlier this year.

The £9.3 billion figure, upper limit on public funding for the Games, is some £5.3 billion greater than the estimate in gross terms at the time of London’s bid. These estimates did not include the cost of the Olympic Village which is expected to be funded largely by the private sector.

As the audit report indicates, the main area of uncertainty is the impact of construction price inflation. Much will also depend on the level of funding secured from the private sector for building the Olympic Park.

“Significant areas of uncertainty remain”, it says, “such as the finalisation of detailed design specifications, the legacy benefits to be delivered, how potential suppliers will respond to invitations to bid for work, and the impact of inflation on construction prices, as reflected in the high level of contingency that has been provided for.”

In view of the tendency for major project costs to be under-estimated, the budget for the Games includes a contingency sum equivalent to some 30 per cent of the current budget. Use of this provision, currently set at £2.747 billion, is to be refined by the delivery authority as individual projects go forward.

By realistically reflecting the risk of additional costs, says the audit report, a risk based contingency should provide a better basis for effective cost control.

“It is however important to recognise that the Games budget is just that – a budget and not a target.

“Whilst effective risk management is essential, it is also important to seek opportunities where possible to manage within the available resources, including the contingency if used, for example by providing where appropriate suitable incentives for suppliers to come within the target cost for individual projects.”

Within the actions required to manage risk, the audit office has identified three needs which it says require particular attention now:

A clear statement of the key deliverables expected in return for £9 billion public funding, making clear time, cost and quality assumptions
More robust estimates of contingency to reflect the special risks associated with particular elements of the programme
A cash flow analysis to ensure that the ODA has money available and is not delayed in taking forward its delivery programme.
The Olympic budget includes expected funding from the National Lottery now set at £2.175 billion, of which some £750 million should be contributed by designated Olympic lottery games. This will however entail some loss of sales revenue for mainstream games currently supported by the lottery.

According to the audit report, this will be offset by a share in the expected profits from the sale of land in the Olympic Park when the Games are over. These profits, held by the London Development Agency, are to be shared with the Government, which in June expected to recoup for the lottery an estimated £675 million.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Olympics: Just five years to go!

THE five years left to go to the spectacular Opening Ceremony of the London Olympic Games was celebrated when more than two hundred and five people working on the project came together on the site of the Olympic Village in Stratford to mark the moment.

They represented the 205 nations who will take part in the 'greatest sporting show on earth' in 2012.

Also as part of the milestone London 2012 hosted the inaugural Pierre de Coubertin Lecture in conjunction with the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce and the British Olympic Foundation.

Today is exactly five years until the Olympic torch is lit in the 2012 Games stadium in Newham.

East London 'gold' for Olympic investors

The average house price in London has broken through the £300,000 barrier, with no signs of property price growth letting up significantly in the near future. But for the savvy investor who wants to buy property in the capital, the question is clear: where in the capital will they see the best return on their investment?

Some have suggested the central London market is still offering significant potential for gains, particularly for buy-to-let investors hoping to cash in on ever-high demand as well as rising rents.

Others believe that no matter where in the capital you buy, you are likely to experience success. However, depending on when an investor is hoping to see maximum returns, the various possibilities in London could yield results that are more successful for some and less so for others.

With the Olympics heading for the capital in 2012, it has been suggested that east London will see a surge in investment potential as the area is developed and regenerated in anticipation of the global sporting event.

However, the buy-to-let investor hoping to see short to medium-term results might be better off steering clear of the Stratford area for the time being, one expert has suggested. According to the director of research at property firm Hometrack, Richard Donnell, investment in east London will experience the best growth in the long-term.

"It's all about what return you want really," he commented, adding that property buyers are likely to benefit from buying east London property if they are "happy to take a long-term view".

He explained that east London property has the potential to outperform house price growth in the rest of the capital. "If house prices rise in line with earning over the next ten years, parts of east London have got a reasonable chance of outperforming the long run average for London property prices," Mr Donnell commented.

The regeneration of east London will include the development of Stratford, which will see a new retail development and improved transport links as part of regeneration work in the Olympic Village. Some 9,000 new homes are also expected to be built in the area.

"The whole broad area around Stratford and the Olympic village will benefit from economic regeneration," commented Mr Donnell. However, he added that predicting the movement of house prices in the area is "another issue", as the Olympic site is "quite disconnected" from adjacent housing markets. "Investments will have a beneficial impact on the housing market but there is only so high house prices can go," he added.

Halifax Estate Agents reported earlier this year that by February, house prices in the three postal districts closest to the Olympic village had experienced 15 per cent house price growth since the announcement of the capital's winning bid.

And its report predicted more growth for east London, saying that historically, host cities have seen house prices increase at a rate higher than the national average in the five years running up to the event.

The last four host cities – Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney and Athens – averaged 66 per cent of annual house price growth in the five-year period preceding the Games.

And with five years to go until London 2012, property investors with a long-term outlook could be getting gold by heading east.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Britain to consider criminalizing doping in sports

LONDON: Britain may consider imposing criminal sanctions for doping before the 2012 London Olympics.

The issue will be the focus of an anti-doping commission set up Tuesday by the British Olympic Association in the first major review of drug-testing rules in Britain.

The six-member panel will also examine the rule, introduced in 1992, that automatically bans any British athlete who has a drug offense from competing in any future Olympics.

Creation of an independent anti-doping agency, along the lines of bodies set up in the United States and Australia, will also be considered.

BOA chairman Colin Moynihan said criminalizing doping for athletes and suppliers was a delicate issue.

"You would need to introduce legislation that in practice deters those around the athlete who are actively involved in the doping scandal," Moynihan said. "Getting that right in legislation has been a challenge for a number of countries that have implemented it."

Italy, France and Spain are among countries with criminal anti-doping laws.

Foreign athletes training or competing in Britain would also be subject to any criminal charges.

Several European countries have passed laws in the past two years to criminalize doping in sports.

British cyclist David Millar faced a court case in France after testing positive for the banned blood-boosting hormone EPO, and Italian police raided the Austrian cross-country and biathlon team lodgings at the 2006 Turin Olympics in search of doping substances.

Spain introduced criminal legislation for doping in February following the Operation Puerto blood doping investigation. In Germany, legislation was proposed in March for tougher penalties for trafficking in performance-enhancing drugs.

The British commission is made up of the BOA and London 2012's chief medical officer, Richard Budgett; 2000 Olympics modern pentathlon champion Steph Cook; British Cycling Federation president Brian Cookson; International Olympic Committee member Craig Reedie; medical adviser to the Lawn Tennis Association Michael Turner, and lawyer Charles Flint.

Arne Ljungqvist, chairman of the IOC's medical commission, will be a senior adviser.

"Doping is unacceptable, a social crime," Ljungqvist said in The Times of London on Tuesday. "A coming host of an Olympic Games should show a good example here."

UK Sport, which currently oversees drug testing and punishment in Britain, had a mixed reaction to the creation of the BOA panel.

"Until there is greater clarity on the commission's purpose, therefore, it is difficult to see what value it is going to add over the next year and at a time when the UK system is already under close scrutiny," UK Sport chief executive John Steele said.

"The last thing British sport needs as we build up to Beijing 2008 and London 2012 is distraction, confusion about roles and duplication of effort."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

London 2012 bolsters Olympics management team

The London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (Locog) has made five senior appointments to ramp up its management team five years ahead of the city hosting the 2012 games. Ty Speer has been appointed client services director with responsibility for handling sponsors. He joins with 15 years experience in the sports marketing industry and has worked for the Melbourne Commonwealth Games and Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Speer will report into commercial director Chris Townsend.

Mike Gibbons joins Locog from the BBC and takes up the post head of live sites and UK coordination. He will be responsible for developing the live sites concept around the country, a key part of Lloyds TSB's sponsorship deal.

Martin Green who organised the launch of the 02 complex in Greenwich has taken up the role of head of ceremonies, which includes organising the opening and closing ceremonies of the event. Both posts report to Bill Morris, director of culture, ceremonies and education.

Sue Hunt takes on the role of director of strategy and programme management, reporting to chief executive Paul Deighton, while Punita Gajree has been named head of programme solutions, working alongside Hunt.

K2 bidding to bring the Olympics to Crawley

K2 bidding to bring the Olympics to Crawley

IMAGINE this. It's the year 2012, you walk into K2 Leisure Centre in Crawley to use the fitness suite and in front of you at reception stand a group of tall, tanned athletic-looking people in green tracksuits.

Their accents betray their origins. It's the Australian national swimming squad. Seems unusual, but becomes less so as you walk around the building.

In the gymnasium, the Chinese gymnastics squad are spinning and vaulting over the apparatus. Out on the athletics track, Great Britain's 4x100m relay team are practising their changeovers and in the sports hall the Canadian basketball team are engrossed in a tough training session.

It sounds like fantasy but this vision could become reality in the year of the London Olympic Games if K2's centre manager Steve Warriner gets his way.

Thousands of athletes will travel to Britain for the Games in five years' time and all of them will need somewhere to acclimatise and blow out the cobwebs to arrive at their respective competitions in peak condition.

Warriner believes the state-of-theart facilities at K2 can persuade the world's most talented sports-people to choose Crawley for their final Olympic preparations.

"I would say to them, come with me and I'll show you round,"he says. "I'd let the place speak for itself. I don't think you can say anything which does the place justice unless you have seen it.

"For me, there are a number of 'wow' factors at K2. There is the pool hall, the size of the main sports hall, which is immense, and the climbing wall which is a massive feature of the building. You see these things and think, 'I want to come and use this place'."

He speaks the truth. Last year a whopping 1.2 million visitors passed through the K2 turnstiles, roughly double the annual tally for the old Crawley Leisure Centre.

It is easy to see why this modern facility has been such a hit with the local community.

It includes an eight-lane floodlit athletics track with grandstand, an Olympic sized swimming pool with diving and play areas, a fitness suite, five squash courts, an indoor bowls rink, a climbing wall, a gymnastics hall, a martial arts room, conference facilities and a vast main sports hall that contains 12 bad minton courts.

Including all the improvements to surrounding roads and local transport infrastructure, the whole project cost a cool £37 million but looking around you can't help but feel that Crawley Borough Council have got their money's worth.

For that price, K2 had to be well used and it is - thanks to links established with local schools and sports teams as well as those from further afield.

The gymnastics arena is leased to the Hawth Gymnastics club while the climbing wall is also leased out to a private enterprise. In addition, Thomas Bennett Community College have an agreement with K2 enabling their students to use part of the sports hall, the all weather pitches, the tennis courts and aerobics studios as part of their PE curriculum.

Crawley Athletics and Swimming clubs also use the track as a strong candidate to become an Olympic training venue.

It has staged a European boxing event, the British Judo Championships, international Thai double application for it to become a training venue for teams in the 2012 Olympics.

One application has been made by K2 on its own and another as part of the Gatwick Diamond consortium of sports venues. Both bids have gone to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) and a decision is due to be made on which venues will be given training ground status in January 2008.

The Gatwick Diamond group is a boxing, an U19 national badminton tournament, the table tennis national grand prix and IAPS swimming galas.

And on August 16 and 17 this year, basketball fans will have a chance to see NBA star Luol Deng in action at K2 when the Great Britain basketball team play two matches against Ireland as they warm up for qualification for London 2012.

Such events, Warriner believes, are a sign that the country and wider world are now aware of what Crawley has to offer in a sporting sense.

"The old Crawley Leisure Centre was well known on a regional scale but K2 has taken that onto the next level," he says.

"It has raised Crawley's profile and people are coming to talk to us in terms of hosting national events. But for some people it is not about K2 hosting the world karate championships, it's about whether they can come and use the facility."

K2's growing reputation as a first-class sports venue has provided a platform for Warriner to make a Sussex collection of sports venues comprising K2, Christ's Hospital School and Bluecoat Sports Club, East Grinstead Sports Club, Olympos Burgess Hill, the showjumping course at Hickstead and the Nivea Sun Yellowave Venue in Brighton.

In June a series of sporting events were staged to showcase each venue including the regional judo championships at K2, and Warriner feels the watching VIPs would have been impressed with what they saw.

"I think they would have seen that the facilities are big enough to cope with large scale activities," he says.

"But the facility we have can cater for so many different sports and so it gives us so many options. That's the positive thing.

"We have a good diversity of facilities so for us, between now and Beijing, it's about holding good events and truly quality products.

"We are in a good position in that we have applied and our facilities are up and running whereas other applicants have applied when their facilities are still being built.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Olympic VeloPark to Live on Well After 2012

Olympic VeloPark to Live on Well After 2012

The VeloPark to be based in the north of the Olympic Park, will include a 6,000 seat Velodrome to host the Olympic and Paralympic indoor track cycling events as well as a BMX circuit for Olympic events (below).

Interior of the proposed VeloPark.
After the Games, the BMX circuit will be repositioned next to the Velodrome with a road cycle circuit and mountain bike course added to create a legacy VeloPark that will combine cycling facilities across all disciplines in one cycling ‘hub’, linked into cycle routes across London.

The design competition was judged by leading names from the world of architecture and design as well as Olympic Gold medal-winning cyclist Chris Hoy.

The winning design consortium is made up of:

-Hopkins Architects
-Expedition Engineering
-Grant Associates

The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) also released very early concept images to demonstrate the design team’s vision behind the winning bid. More detailed work will now be carried out with the ODA over the coming months.

Jennie Price, Chief Executive of Sport England said:

“The huge crowds watching the Tour de France in London show that there is a real appetite for cycling in this country. At Sport England, we want to build on this enthusiasm by turning spectators into participants so last weeks announcement on the Velodrome is very welcome.

“We are delighted to be working with the appointed design team and the ODA to deliver an Olympic venue we can be proud of. We also need to make sure the Velodrome is used after 2012 to get local communities involved in cycling.”

David Higgins, Chief Executive of the ODA said:

“The winning team impressed the design jury with their understanding of the need to plan Games and legacy together. Their vision supported our desire for a Velodrome that sits within a comprehensive VeloPark with a wide range of cycling facilities for people of all abilities – beginner to elite.

“Between them the design team have a strong track record in designing innovative and creative projects. I am confident that they can help create both a world-class stage for the best athletes in the world and leave a lasting legacy for cyclists of all ages and abilities for many years to come.”

Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the London Organising Committee, said:

“I am delighted to be announcing the design team for one of the key venues in the Olympic Park. This is on the back of a fantastic weekend for cycling in this country with the staging of the Tour de France. This showed how London is the world capital of sport and our capacity to stage world sporting events. It also showed the passion of Londoners for world class sport and the enthusiasm for cycling in the capital and throughout the UK.

“The VeloPark will contain brand new, state of the art facilities for road cycling, bmx, and mountain biking, be a great venue for the Games and leave a permanent cycling legacy in the capital.”

Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell said:

“I am delighted with the appointment of this experienced team who have an impressive track record. I am sure they will produce not only a world class venue for the Games, but also a lasting legacy for a training and competition centre for cycling and a venue that will be equally inviting to the local community.

“Good design is not an optional extra: it is fundamental to everything we build for the Games and I am determined to ensure that it is embedded in every project from inception to completion.”

Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone said:

“Cycling has never been so popular in the capital and after last weekend, when millions packed into London's streets to watch the spectacle of the Tour de France, we can be assured that the VeloPark will be a magnet for spectators both during the 2012 Games and long after.

“We look forward to seeing a world class VeloPark which will host major competitions that both inspire our future cycling champions and attract many more people to take up and enjoy the pleasure and benefits of cycling.”

Chris Hoy, Olympic cycling champion and member of the Design Jury, said:

“Having competed in cycling venues around the globe, I understand the importance of world-class design in Olympic venues so I was delighted to be involved in judging the VeloPark design entrants.

“I was hugely impressed by the winning team’s ideas, not only because they recognised and understood the needs of elite athletes but also because of their exciting visions for the venue and the legacy thereafter which will help inspire a new generation of cycling champions.”

Mike Taylor, a Director of Hopkins Architects said:

“We are absolutely thrilled to have been selected to design the VeloPark. The design competition was a great team effort, against formidable opposition.

“We are particularly honored because the scale and prominence of the Velodrome will make it a defining image of the Olympic Park and a place where we hope world records will be broken. Our vision for the project is one where both beginners and elite athletes will be equally at home and where everyone will be encouraged to participate and excel.”

Peter King, Chief Executive, British Cycling said:

"I was impressed by the range, vision and quality of the tenders submitted and particularly impressed with the understanding that the winning team had developed of the challenges to be faced in addressing the issues of legacy. Their concept for the Velodrome is outstanding and looks entirely practical, both in Olympic mode and as the heart of the legacy VeloPark.

“We are ready to start work with the team on the details of the Velodrome and the BMX tracks for the Olympics and on the plans to create other world-class legacy facilities in the Olympic Park for cycling user groups and the local community to use.

“These are exciting times for cycling and we look forward to being an active part of the process to ensure both the very best Olympic facilities for our sport and a full legacy for all aspects of cycling in this unique inner city setting."

Shaun Dawson, Chief Executive for the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority said:

“This team demonstrated the best understanding of the operational needs of the facility as well as inspiring design techniques. This is a winning formula which will create what will be a world class cycling facility that will hopefully help us hit gold in 2012 and in legacy inspire a new generation of cyclists of all ages and abilities.”

There will now be around 10 months for the outline design phase followed by nine months of detailed design development, before construction work starts in the spring of 2009.

The VeloPark will be completed in time for test events to take place in the summer of 2011. Lee Valley Regional Park Authority will own and operate the VeloPark in legacy.

In addition to the facilities that will remain in the VeloPark beyond 2012, the London Development Agency (LDA) are investing £5m in a new permanent road cycle circuit and mountain bike course at Hog Hill, Redbridge and will be funding the facility up to the completion of the legacy VeloPark. Work is underway to identify an operator of Hog Hill beyond 2012.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Pressure on Olympic building plans

The London Olympics faces cost pressures because of stiff competition for contractors, labour and raw materials caused by a boom in construction projects, according to the man responsible for overseeing the building of the 2012 facilities.

David Higgins, chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority, says some contractors may also be scared off by the high profile of the Olympics, making it harder to generate competitive bids for games facilities.

The ODA, which has about £5.6bn of the £9.3bn overall Olympics budget at its disposal, is into its most intensive period of activity, working out budget costs and procuring work and concept designs.

Work began this week on clearing the 2.5 sq km Olympic Park site of contamination. Demolition work for the main Olympics stadium begins next week which also marks the five-year countdown to the 2012 opening ceremony. “We will be at full capacity within six months,” Mr Higgins told the FT.

But the key negotiations on construction costs are taking place during huge demand in the marketplace for contractors, he added.

“You just have to look out of the window at all the cranes everywhere, all around you. It is unprecedented, the level of development in the city,” Mr Higgins said.

“We are in a market which is very very competitive, to get the right level of staff and expertise. So we have to be attractive to clients. We have to give clear directions, clear decisions, have a clear client brief.

“We don’t have the luxury of choosing our time,” he said, referring to the fixed 2012 Olympics date.

Mr Higgins said there had been good responses from construction companies for tenders to build the media and aquatics centres and interest in less high profile Olympic projects such as bridges and roads building.

But asked if some construction companies were reluctant to get involved in the Olympics projects in general, given the controversy over Wembley stadium, he said: “High-profile iconic projects are always going to be a challenge. No one needs them on the front pages of their annual reports. No one needs any of that publicity.”

“Contractors worry about clients that can’t make decisions and change their minds. That’s the biggest risk.”

Mr Higgins’ own high profile in the Olympics project is likely to be reduced when John Armitt starts in September as ODA chairman, replacing Jack Lemley who resigned accusing politicians of political interference.

Mr Higgins denied the ODA had compromised on architectural design to cut costs, despite a big revision to the aquatics stadium. On the Olympics stadium, he said its design would be unveiled in November and would be “innovative”, providing a field of play twice the size of Wembley’s, yet surrounded by a structure not that much larger than the national football stadium’s, to house 80,000 seats.

Richard Rogers, he said, was “quite satisfied” with projects, despite his criticism about the ODA’s apparent disinterest in design. One architectural firm had left the Olympic masterplanning team, but that, said Mr Higgins, was the result of an internal issue.

The £9.3bn Olympics budget includes £2.7bn as a contingency for overruns, and Mr Higgins said there was no doubt elements of the contingency would be spent.

“It’s not there to be sat in a pristine box till 2012,” he said. “It will be used to manage risk, to spend money now in order to accelerate something to deliver it earlier.”

He added that the ODA was nearing a resolution on direct employment of workers, after warnings from construction unions that plans by the ODA to recruit self-employed migrant workers to cut costs would compromise safety.

“We’ll reach a sensible agreement. We don’t want to create something that doesn’t set an aspiration for us, but is realistic for the industry,” he said.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Athletics legend outlines Olympic benefits

Olympic organiser Lord Coe was in the North East to visit our sports facilities ahead of the 2012 games in London. But how will the Olympics benefit the region?

DOUBLE Olympic champion Sebastian Coe experienced the North East’s enthusiasm for sport and its desire to share in the benefits of the world event first hand when he visited the region.

The athletics legend saw a wide cross-section of sports when he was given a guided tour around the Sunderland Aquatic Centre, Gateshead International Stadium and Glenn McCrory’s International School of Boxing in Newcastle.

The UK Olympic football tournament is coming to St James’ Park, but what other benefits can people in the area expect from the Games?

Lord Coe said: “An Olympic games coming into anybody’s country has a massive spin-off and I see the event as being a very big driver of potential in all our local communities, including the North East.

“The impact of the games in London will have an impact on participation rates both in sports, the culture of a community and businesses engagements right throughout the country, so I don’t see this as simply being a London games.”

He added: “I know the North East pretty well. I have spent a lot of my time competing here and I have good friends here and visit the region a lot.

“I believe the majority understand that an Olympic games coming to a country gives a massive opportunity to a community like the North East that really does understand what sport is about.

“I know there is a deep and abiding love of sport in the region and a recognition that sport is the real hidden social worker in so many challenged communities throughout the country.

“The London 2012 Games are truly a games for the whole nation. I am delighted to be in the North East to be able to hear more about the region’s priorities and plans to maximise the benefits of the Olympics.”

During his visit to Gateshead International Stadium yesterday Lord Coe unveiled North East England’s Regional Plan in the run up to the Olympics, outlining the hope for new business contracts, tourism and culture opportunities.

Organisers of North East England’s Regional Plan intend to co-ordinate a range of services to ensure regional businesses are fully equipped to “maximise the potential opportunities associated with the Games in order to win direct and indirect business”.

It is also hoped the Games will provide a showcase for the region’s sports facilities, attracting visiting teams to regional facilities.

“North East England’s Regional Plan will help build on the massive passion there is for sport in the region,” explained Lord Coe. “It outlines the eight key areas in which we believe the region can benefit from the London Games.

“Research has shown one in eight North East firms can potentially benefit by winning contracts to supply the 2012 Olympics.

“It is felt the Games can help people focus on healthier lives and address some of the child obesity and diabetes issues.”

Today scores of youngsters and adults sampled different sporting activities at the London 2012 Roadshow at Concordia Leisure Centre, in Cramlington, Northumberland.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Direct labour threatens to add £240m to Olympics

Demands for direct employment on the London 2012 site could add £240m to the cost of the Olympics, industry experts have claimed.

One employment expert warned the move would send the wage bill soaring. “You are talking about an extra 20% at least on the wages bill when you take into account the additional cost of employers’ National Insurance contributions and benefits like holiday pay and sick pay.”

On a major job like the Olympics about a third of the total budget is allocated for labour costs, which means about £3bn of the £9.3bn overall cost is affected by the call for direct employment.

CJ understands that on a typical major project about 65% of the workforce is directly employed in the initial stages, falling to around 50% as the job nears completion.

One major contractor said: “A lot of the big boys have taken on their people direct so the number is higher at the start before the smaller firms start coming on to the job.

“If you take six out of ten workers as an average for the level of direct employment on other big sites then the 20% extra cost of taking the rest of the Olympic workforce on the books works out at £240m on a £3bn wage bill.”

The warning comes as negotiations on an industrial relations agreement between the construction unions and the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) have reportedly reached a stalemate (CJ 11 July).

The unions are united on their insistence that self-employment should not be allowed on the job.

A UCATT spokesperson said: “It is a myth that so-called flexible working is cheaper. Wembley stadium and Holyrood were built on the backs of so-called self-employed workers. These projects were massively late and horrendously over budget. The direct employment model would have alleviated many of the problems experienced by these projects.

“Even if direct employment costs more, decent people and decent companies may decide that is a price worth paying in order to prevent workers being exploited and an increase in deaths and accidents that are all too often major features of bogus self-employed sites.”

An ODA spokesperson dismissed the CJ figures. “These are ill-informed back of the envelope calculations. The ODA has always maintained we are committed to ensuring high standards of employment and we’re confident of achieving this within our given budget. We have always said that the appropriate National Working Rule agreement will form the basis of employment on site.

“We are also currently discussing the final points of a Memorandum of Agreement with construction unions and it is our intention that it will include an agreement on maximising direct employment.”

from www.contractjournal.com

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

FIBA lifts ban on English players on British basketball team

LONDON (AP) - Chicago Bulls swingman Luol Deng and Pops Mensah-Bonsu of the Dallas Mavericks will try to help Britain's national basketball qualify for the 2012 London Olympics.

FIBA, the sport's world governing body, lifted its ban on English players competing on the British team after a funding dispute was resolved with British sports bodies.

"The government authorities promised to work constructively with England Basketball to move the sport forward in view of the 2012 London Olympic Games and to bring all stakeholders together under the umbrella of the national governing body," FIBA said in a statement Monday.

British Performance Basketball, a body set up to help the men's and women's teams qualify for the 2012 Games, said the issue had been "successfully resolved" and it would continue preparations for the EuroBasket Division B competitions in August and September.

If successful, each team will face two promotion playoff matches in September to reach EuroBasket Division A. Britain needs to reach that level to have a chance of qualifying for the Olympics.

Deng, who was born in Sudan and grew up in London, received British citizenship last year. Monsah-Bonsu was born in London and moved to the United States when he was 16. The two are to meet up with the British squad Friday at a training camp in Florida.

England, Wales and Scotland compete individually at world championships and Commonwealth Games, but are part of a combined Britain team for the Olympics.

FIBA has ruled that a British team must qualify for either the 2009 or 2011 European Championships in order to play at the 2012 Olympics.

Monday, July 16, 2007

British MPs To Discuss London 2012 Logo

A report in Marketing Week says that a group of British MPs want to meet the team behind the controversial London 2012 logo to discuss the thinking behind the design.

Any meeting would include representatives from Wolff Olins, the design agency behind the logo, and the London 2012 Organizing Committee.

Joanna Shaw, group manager of the cross-party Parliamentary Design Group, says all parties have shown interest in discussing the logo and a meeting could be arranged for next month.

The design group was established to elevate the standard of debate on design in Britain’s parliament and ensure design is considered in policy development.

Hello velo 2012 cycling venue unveiled

The London 2012 VeloPark will be the best in the world, heralding a golden age for British cycling, the Olympic champion Chris Hoy claimed yesterday. Initial designs for one of the "big four" venues in the Olympic Park include a 6,000-seat velodrome and plans to create a lasting legacy for cycling in the capital after the Games.

One of the most eye-catching features is the double curvature of its lightweight roof. Mike Taylor, a director of Hopkins Architects, part of the winning design team, said the roof took its inspiration from the "speed, drama and geometry of a cycle track". Previous projects by Hopkins include the Mound Stand at Lord's and the National Tennis Centre at Roehampton.

The VeloPark design was selected from eight bids made in a competition, judged by a panel including Hoy, Sunand Prasad, president elect of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and Sir Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate.Hoy said: "I believe it will deliver the best velodrome in the world and will herald a golden era of cycling."

The VeloPark, expected to cost up to £40m, will include a BMX circuit, road cycle circuit and mountain bike course. The planning application will be lodged next year and construction start in 2009.

Olympic planners left IT out of the budget

The government failed to account for the costs of IT when putting together its budget for the 2012 Olympic Games, according to the bean counter watchdogs of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

In its 39th report, the PAC said the Olympic had neglected to include additional costs of £400m, which would cover "IT and site mobilisation and the costs of the CLM Consortium", a project management group appointed by the Olympic Delivery Authority to help it get everything in on time.

This £400m oversight was part of a £900m increase in the total budget for the Olympic Park, announced in 2006. The PAC says the massive underestimate was a result of using the costs of an "urban development corporation" as a benchmark for the running costs of the Olympic And they say private sector isn't leaner than public.

The report also found the authority has "seriously overestimated" the amount of private sector funding it was likely to receive. Planners budgeted for £738m of private sector funding, but it turned out that there was not enough time to negotiate the necessary contracts, so the money is unlikely to materialise.

The games were originally expected to cost around £2bn. That figure has since risen to £9bn. And although they managed a £400m tech-related oversight, at least planners managed to get Olympic in on time and looking just fabulous. ®

Monday, July 2, 2007

Olympic sites to be inspected

Inspectors are beginning a three-day examination of London's plans for the 2012 Olympics.

The 16-strong International Olympic Committee's co-ordination commission is being updated on progress since the last official visit in April last year.

Organisers are hoping last week's furore over the graffiti-styled London 2012 logo, hated by thousands, has died down.

More than 30,000 people signed a petition against the £400,000 image, calling for the logo to be axed. The logo is set to be at the heart of money-spinning marketing and sponsorship schemes to help stage the Games.

Then London 2012 was forced to pull a promotional video amid claims it had triggered epileptic seizures in some people.

Speculation over the spiralling Olympic budget were answered with the announcement that building and regeneration costs had trebled to £9.3bn.

It had been triggered by the resignation of Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) chairman Jack Lemley who also claimed political meddling was hindering the scheme. John Armitt, the outgoing Network Rail chief executive, is taking over as the ODA chairman.

London 2012 will be keen to stress it has made an early start on preparations and is determined to control construction costs in its bid to bring the Games in on time and on budget.

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