Olympic chiefs accused of meanness after conditions attached to legacy funding
PUBLISHED: 09:01 20 February 2013 | UPDATED: 12:20 20 February 2013
Olympic chiefs have been accused of meanness and ‘leading local people up the garden path’ after discussions about providing an Olympic sporting legacy turned out to be reliant on match funding from the cash-strapped council.
Following public outcry over the erection of the £5 million temporary basketball training hall on Leyton Marsh Metropolitan Open Land, the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) entered into discussion about funding improvements to the nearby basketball courts at South Millfields Park, Upper Clapton.
Olympic basketball athlete Carl Miller joined the Save Leyton Marsh campaign group in demanding funding for basketball facility improvements, to ensure a positive legacy for local young people from the 2012 Games.
ODA project director Richard Arnold was invited along, and acknowledged the sports facilities would benefit from refurbishment.
Seven months on the ODA has now offered £10,000 legacy funding towards the estimated £40,000 costs for upgrading the basketball courts – but only on the condition the council provides match funding.
Leabridge ward Cllr Ian Rathbone said the offer was “cunning”.
“At no time did Mr Arnold mention match funding or any other arrangement than a straightforward funding for the work,” he said.
“They are forcing the council to pay £30,000 at a time of severe cuts, when they spent £9bn plus on the Olympic Games – I consider that meanness.
He continued: “They led us up the garden path again by promising to do what the Olympics also promised, but failed to do so – which is to help our young people have better life chances through improved sporting facilities and opportunities.
“They have ruined Leyton Marsh as an area of leisure and relaxation for local people, and now they have ruined young people’s hopes for better things.”
Claire Weiss, from SLM group who attended the meetings with the ODA said the move was “mean and uncaring”.
“Imposing this condition after bids have been worked up shows a lack of transparency, and leads to wasting of effort and time,” she said.
“The amounts of money involved are tiny compared to £5m spent on building, policing and demolishing the scandalously under-used Olympic training basketball courts on Leyton Marsh.”
An ODA spokesman said: “As the body responsible for building London 2012’s venues and infrastructure, as opposed to ensuring a wider sporting legacy, we had no budget for additional work and did not promise any funding when we met local residents and council representatives.”
He insisted no promises of funding had been made.
“However, as a gesture of goodwill, we secured extra money from the government to help pay for improvements to existing council-run sports facilities,” he said.
“We believe it is not unreasonable to expect local authorities to make some contribution themselves to schemes benefiting local people.”
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