Glad someone's enjoying this
Long-time readers will know that the 2012 Olympics smashed the world record for salami slicing (see all 2012 posts gathered here).
The first slice - served up when we originally pitched for the thing - was a mere £2.375bn. But after landing the gig, the cost suddenly ramped up to £9.3bn, a fourfold increase. We later discovered the original costing had been cobbled together during a late night Withnail drinking contest down The Stoat and Weasel, but the process bore all the classic grease-marks of ripe salami. That's where project costs are deliberately low-balled so as not to scare taxpayers. One international study found that 90% of such projects overrun their initial budgets:
'The study concluded that lying, or intentional deception, by public officials was the source of the problem: “Project promoters routinely ignore, hide, or otherwise leave out important project costs and risks in order to make total costs appear low.” Politicians use “salami tactics” whereby costs are only revealed to taxpayers one slice at a time in the hope that the project is too far along when true costs are revealed to turn back.'And in the case of the Olympics, the slices are still being piled on our plate months after the wretched thing ended. So yesterday we learned that taxpayers are being forced to shell out another £150bn - £190bn to convert the white elephant Olympic Stadium into a football ground for West Ham. Well, OK, £15m of that will come form West Ham, but for that we're giving them a £600m+ stadium.
It really does make you want to spit, even if Boris reckons it's the best deal available in the circs. Because if the arrogant Tessers originally in charge of the project had ensured the stadium could be used for football, we wouldn't now need to swallow this additional slice. Even a non-sporty potato like me understands that football is the only sport that could sustain such a monster, yet that point was clearly beyond Her Ladyship Tessa J. Even though her own Sports Minister says he explained it to her:
"The mistake was made in 2006/7 when they ruled football out of a retro-fit design as we had done successfully in Manchester with the Commonwealth Games stadium. I suggested retractable seating like the Stade de France in Paris but they insisted it should be a 25,000-seat athletics stadium. Time and again mistakes are made with Olympic Stadiums and the lessons should be learned for any future similar projects."Lessons being learned for the future.
If our high spending politicos could learn lessons for the future, I doubt I'd be writing this blog. Value for our money never trumps political grandstanding, and grandiose projects like the Olympics offer the most imposing grandstands of all.