Picture of a judge's wigThe Judge RANTS!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 25/02/04

What A (Sport)lot Of Wasters! (or: Floored By The (Olympic) Rings)

(No, it's not another Tolkein reference...)

A group of young people in the small mid-Wales market town of Llandiloes (about 40 miles south of where I sit) wanted a skatepark. They had heeded the call from politicians, celebs and the medical profession that youngsters should stop sitting around in front of the TV (after all, that's an activity set aside for the exclusive use of middle-aged farts like me) and should go out and get some healthy exercise.

So, they drew up their plans, got the local council on board, secured land and planning permission for the skatepark, and made an application to Sportlot (the quango charged with doling out money for schemes like this) for a grant of £52 000, this being about 80% of the total sum needed.

And their reward for their enthusiasm, diligence and drive?

Sportlot have now told them that the application must be reduced to £30 000.


The main reason given is that Sportlot is keeping a huge sum of money back so that they can bid for a piece of the action in London's bid for the Olympic Games in 2012. If London's bid succeeds, then £1.5 billion will be thrown at it by Sportlot.

Again, why?

The whole idea of Sportlot, at least as it was sold to us, was that it would provide assistance with projects which could not get commercial support, and particularly with schemes which helped communities. Instead, we see this unaccountable group gathering together the loot to provide what is, in effect, a huge public subsidy to an international organisation which is not short of business sponsorship (and, indeed, control).

Even in the unlikely event of London staging the Games, the largest share of the benefit will be gained by the huge corporations which will be sponsoring it; by the large companies based in London; by the owners of hotels in the area; and by the property speculators who will get the highly-lucrative contracts to build the facilities required. And, of course, politicians like Blair, Prescott and Livingstone will be able to swank around.

In other words, few if any positive effects will be felt by those outside the charmed circle of about 25 miles radius around London.

Nevertheless, billions of pounds of our money will be sucked in to this vortex of excess, leaving us to make do with less, when we are the ones who need that support.

The other excuse given by Sportlot was that lottery ticket sales have fallen.

Is it any wonder?

(For the story as reported in the media, go here)