Chris Philp – BBC Sunday Politics – London Stadium
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Chris Philp – BBC Sunday Politics – London Stadium

December 3, 2019


it was the centerpiece of the 2012
Olympics but the glory days of what’s been renamed the London Stadium seem a
long way off this week the mayor Sadiq Khan agreed to take over the former
Olympic Stadium and published a highly critical review of how it’s been run in
it he blames the previous Mayor Boris Johnson for saddling the taxpayer not
the tenants West Ham United with the bill for the stadium’s transformation
from exclusively hosting athletics to include football he says that the costs
were 133 million pounds more than the incorrect estimates when West Ham signed
the deal and the stadium is now forecast to lose twenty four million pounds in
2017 to 18 well now the mayor has agreed to deal with new and council to take
over the control of the stadium Andrew let’s start with you this was such a
high-profile project what’s gone wrong it’s not a good idea in my experience
for local authorities to start running stadia this is the big moral of it these
are private enterprises let’s be frank these football clubs they make a lot of
money they don’t really need the state to come in and help them – and of course
there was a big issue about what was going to be done with Olympic assets and
so on I think the lesson I draw from this is let these football clubs which
have got these super business alert directors big incomes let them sort
these things out themselves and don’t saddle cancer taxpayers with having to
deal what with what could be for many many decades now the debts which are
left

So Boris Johnson mishandled this then Well he was mayor at the time but I’m
not making a political point there’s always this local authorities always like
the idea of the glitz of having big stadia and venues and so on and they’ve
got lots of big things to do with talking later in your programme about
housing and transport nobody else can do those it’s up to the local authorities and
the government to get those right and they should concentrate on those

Heidi Newham council the mayor very much involved in all this they’re to blame?

well I don’t think so I mean I think the report that Sadiq Khan has published this week
shows that actually the decisions that Boris Johnson took when he was mayor in
response to the legal challenge that happened in 2011 I think he panicked and
he was quite quick to say well we rent it out to
Westham when perhaps he could have held back a little bit and adopted a more
sensible negotiating position so some of the contracts massively underestimated
the costs of transforming the stadium from the Olympic Stadium to for use for
West Ham Football Club I think the costs of some of this
retractable seating as well and Boris Johnson’s decision to have the Rugby
World Cup there in 2015 added delay disruption and costs so I do
think that Boris Johnson has got some very serious questions to answer of
course we all know that he had his eye on developing career opportunities over
the Westminster so we shouldn’t be so surprised Well let’s put that to Chris, this doesn’t make entirely comfortable
reading does it for Boris Johnson

well look we shouldn’t forget that in the few
years since the Olympics we’ve had some fantastic events there besides the
Olympics themselves we had the World Cup the Athletics World Cup in 2017 the
Rugby World Cup and of course that whole part of East London has regenerated
enormously partly down to this Stadium so those are all good things
I think the point Lord Adonis made was the most interesting one a moment ago and
the way this got set up eventually in response to a court case so ordinary
Boris’ choice he was forced there by a court case in 2011 but he was set up
with the state essentially running this taking the operational risk but also
responsibility for all the revenue so naming rights and letting out the
stadium for rock concerts and so on it turns out the government or the state
rather in this case that Mayor of London didn’t do a very good job and there is a
real lesson there for those people who advocate nationalisation in other areas
the state running what are basically business enterprises doesn’t work now
Sadiq Khan’s line that he’s now stepping in and taking it over I’m afraid to say
is a bit disingenuous because via the London Development Corporation the
London Legacy Development Corporation he has controlled this because they owned
most of E 20 the stadium owner so Sadiq Khan has had a year and a half to get
this sorted out and it’s regrettable it’s taken him that length of time to
even look at this so all this stuff about stepping in now is a bit of a
gimmick I’m afraid.

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