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London Olympics will cost Manchester dear

Graham Stringer, MP for Blackley, and former City Council Leader, starts a fortnightly column for Confidential

Published on April 22nd 2008.


London Olympics will cost Manchester dear

If you are getting ready to cheer for the Olympic Games in London in 2012 think again and don’t.

The London Olympics are and will be an economic disaster for the English regions including Manchester. In order to understand why this isn’t just sour grapes after Manchester’s failed bid to host the 2000 Games it is worth rehearsing the arguments of why we were so keen to host them in the first place.

Prior to the successful bid London received 80% more for transport than the rest of the country, now it is a 150% more and no government minister can explain why.

As a post-industrial city Manchester needed, and still needs, to improve its international image. There is no bigger boost to a city’s image and its economy than the Olympic Games. It was estimated that the benefit to Manchester of hosting the Games would have been the equivalent of ten car manufacturing plants.

Six years ago when Tony Blair, then Prime Minster, invited me into his office to discuss the prospects of a London Bid I explained to him that I thought the one city in the UK which did not need to boost its international reputation was London. After all this is a world city: one which if the position was up for grabs could easily pitch for the role of world capital city.

Nor did London need the investment as its economy was overheated and it would lead to an even greater imbalance in prosperity between London and the rest of the country. I also speculated that although his officials were denigrating Manchester’s bid in favour of London, there was a post colonial anti-UK view in the International Olympic Committee which would be difficult to overcome.

Blair was very cautious because he’d been assured that we would win the bid to host the 2010 World Cup and had been badly shaken when we didn’t. It is a measure of the man’s competitive instincts and vote winning charm that he effectively took control of the bid and brought the Games to London.

My estimate of the IOC’s bias against the United Kingdom was wrong, but unfortunately my prediction about the dire consequences for everywhere but London of a successful bid has been confirmed in spades.

Just one example: transport. Prior to the successful bid London received 80% more for transport than the rest of the country, now it is a 150% more and no government minister can explain why.

The arts and grass roots sport are also suffering as lottery funds are snatched to prop up the burgeoning costs of the Games. But arrogance upon arrogance: all the candidates for the London Mayoralty say that Londoners shouldn’t and won’t pay for the increased costs which are now four times the original estimate and raising.

What is really appalling is that the Government commissioned Professor Blake of Nottingham University to carry out a study on what the regional impact would be. His conservative estimate was that the regions would lose out by £3 billion. The Government have kept this report quiet as they have kept many of the increased costs secret. Unbelievably the Government and the Organising Committee of the Games will not save the money involved in building a velodrome and allow the cycling to take place in Manchester’s world class record-breaking facility – used with such success just last month – but insist on building their own cycling centre.

What we do know is that officials for the Mayor of London are boasting of £40 billion worth of investment in transport in the immediate future.

So when you come to pay a special tax for entering Manchester city centre - to pay for the much needed investment in trams and public transport - blame the Olympics.

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35 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

JimApril 22nd 2008.

Does the i in i concure stand for ian or irene

JevenApril 22nd 2008.

This is always what happens isn't it? Childish boys let silly anger get before argument. The issues Graham Stringer raises are important to show that the Olympics might not be benefiting directly the areas outside London in monetary terms. But I would contend that they good for the country in terms of prestige and also for sports fans who wish to see the highest rank of sport. More pragmatically they are definitely coming so we might as well enjoy them.

jinkiesApril 22nd 2008.

You forgetting why the Metrolink extension funding was withdrawn Matthew? Something to do with the Cross Rail for London wasn't it, because of the Olympics. 2012 just means more London sucking in everyone elses money, it's a shame we can't all vote for devolution like the Scots and Welsh - Mancunia would be a mighty fine country.

CraggyApril 22nd 2008.

Bloody hell, Graham Stringer writing on here. Superb. Agree totally with his article.

johnthebriefApril 22nd 2008.

In view of Mr Stringer's comments above, why is he still taking the labour whip? After all, it was the government which he votes for that did all these things - the shameless abandoning of any investment in Manchester transport being only the most blatant and egregious of a long list of betrayals.

Paul JohnsonApril 22nd 2008.

It is refreshing to hear a labour MP sticking up for Manchester but it is not going to make any difference to Manchester. We have a Labour Government who continually demonstates its lack of commitment or interest to the regions so I don't think I will be voting for them in May or any future election

cllr.pat karneyApril 22nd 2008.

I know we live in fluid times but the idea that Graham Stringer would cross the floor to be Minister for Manchester under Cameron is off the wall.There is a better chance of me lying naked in a bath of rats in the middle of Market St.It aint going to happen.Graham Stringer is 100% supporting the amazing candidate in the city centre Anthony McCaul.I knew Graham when he was 27 --Anthony reminds me of him quiet,sharp,radical,independent and determined.

JohnApril 22nd 2008.

"There's a fair chance that the games will be delivered on/below budget", I find it charming that naivete of the sort shown by Cut the Spin still exists in these cynical times. I bet Mr. Spin still leaves his tooth under his pillow in the hope of the tooth fairy leaving him some cash

PhillApril 22nd 2008.

Pat Karney is more known (and derided for) for his obsessive anti smoking nonsence. I dont smoke but Pat has almost led me to start!Also, Pat, if you are going to lie naked in a bath full of rats, I suggest you forget Market Street and do it down the back alleys of China Town where they tend to hang around.

Jonathan Schofield - editorApril 22nd 2008.

Cronyism gentleman or lady, we have a policy against excessively personal comments so we had to take a word or two out of your posting.

stoppassingthebuckgarnerApril 22nd 2008.

I agree with Mr Stringer's point of view. When he has finished constructing things up Mark Garner's nose, will Manchester Confidential's management have time to reflect on whether they should now consider themselves as part of the 'established media' in Manchester? After all, they now have the likes of Graham Stringer writing within these pages. So, why hasn't the media in this city highlighted the fact that the cycling isn't being held here? Do something. In a constructive way.

Anthony McCaul forgot toApril 22nd 2008.

also - before I forget the underlying homophobia in your post is bang out of order as well. All a very good advert for the "modern" Tory party. Ha!

Kev PApril 22nd 2008.

'sickoflabourcronyism' - "Why don't we get a column started by a Tory councillor?" - Because (thankfully) there aren't any in Manchester you buffoon! Well, unless you count that Lib Dem one who got bored of the lack of power the Lib Dems have in Manchester... wonder which party he'll go to next?!

Big Hard MancApril 22nd 2008.

Ho Sick of whatever , slag Pat Karney off again and I will have you

AnonymousApril 22nd 2008.

Unbelievably honest and to the point: do the decent thing and cross the floor of the house so DC can make you Minister for Manchester.

sickoftorysApril 22nd 2008.

Shut your cakehole sickof etc. of course life was sooooo much better in the eighties and nineties.NOT! This place may have its problems but its a damn site better place to live than when your gang of nitwits were in power.

sickoflabourcronyismApril 22nd 2008.

My comments illustrate perfectly the problem with Labour's educational system when the prospective city centre candidate can't even spell argument!! If you want any kind of credibility as a councillor, please don't call my postings "crap" and "bollocks" then go on to say "everyones entitled to an opinion"!! I suggest you go back to school cos you won't cut it as a councillor thats for sure! Mouth and trousers springs to mind....

JinkiesApril 22nd 2008.

Philip, what about Bez? He could do with a new job, and I'm pretty sure he'd spearhead my devolution suggestion.

Anthony McCaulApril 22nd 2008.

Sicko(fwhat)?! - You know they've lost the arguement when they resort to the personal stuff. Everyone's entitled to an opinion and listening is so important but when people post such crap without having the bollocks to put their name to it, it doesnt add anything. Go outside and have a word withyourself!

jimjamApril 22nd 2008.

As we have known for far too long, the government and all its ants, believe the British isles extend no further than the sodden edge of the M25.I don't want to pay for something we already have.

SickoflabourcronyismApril 22nd 2008.

Why does Karney going under the guise of a north manchester labour councillor always bring the tone down with his sexual innuendo and the like? It just shows how unprofessional he really is. Stop the idle chatter and get on with dealing with real peoples concerns for a change thats why WE pay you (reluctantly)too busy with Gay Pride no doubt? Why don't we get a column started by a Tory councillor? Disappointed in ManCon immensely as Graham Stringer only contacts his constituents when he wants our vote yet any Neighbour concerns that are voiced gets passed back to the people who fail to protect us!!! they are all the same meglomaniac bunch of so called socialists to me!

PhillApril 22nd 2008.

The MEN fails Manchester. It should cease to be called the Manchester Evening News as there is no news content in there.What we get is a daily dirge of non entities such as Kerry Katona, Wayne Rooney's girlfriend and Tina O' Brien (lord help us, she's just announced she's expecting a baby) and stories about failed contestants on TV reality shows. It has become a daily version of Hello. No wonder they have to give it away free in the city centre!

sickoflabourcronyismApril 22nd 2008.

Concerned resident whatever your name is may find my rant "dispicable" thats your typical narrow-minded biased Guardian-reading lefty view, but why does the mention of Enoch Powell evoke fear amongst so many(white!)people? The man was a visionary and his prophecies are about to come true (sadly). Have you not been watching Rageh Omaar's excellent programme on immigration over the past few weeks? Clearly not! Stick with your lefty luvvy bunch with your blinkers firmly on, you'll be ok..... The liberal views of the people at the top of the pile are crucifying the decent honest citizens of this country who have had enough. No, my name isnt Rob Adlard to answer your question im sure Rob agrees with some of my comments though! My name is irrelevant as is yours. Im not a member of the tory party either.....but thats the way i'll be voting.....

i concurApril 22nd 2008.

i concur. what can we do?

Concerned CitizenApril 22nd 2008.

"sickoflabourcronyism"... is your real name Rob Adlard? Nice point evoking the memory of Enoch Powell - One of many MANY points raised in your dispicable rant highlighting why Manchester (and hopefully the rest of the UK) will never EVER beceome tory.

WyrdtimesApril 22nd 2008.

English taxes for England - that would solve this problem.

drew peacockApril 22nd 2008.

Totally agree Mr Stringer. London will suck money from the rest of the country like a sponge.Cancelled road improvements (If Hazel Grove was in Surrey the A6 by pass would have been completed 25 years ago!).Cancelled metro extensions (Cross rail link not cancelled! or the dome's tube link, or Wembley transport links!So many local sports clubs have had their funding cut due to it going down south.The legacy of these games will hit our pockets for years, with no benefit whatsoever for us in the north. Repulic of Mancunia?..bring it on!

Cut the spinApril 22nd 2008.

Hire a politician, & suffer the spin...Mr Stringer's column is disingenious and divisive. There was never a choice between a Manchester or London Olympics - previous bids have shown that London was the only UK venue likely to win the Games.Whilst Manchester's velodrome is a fine facility, and will no doubt make an excellent support or training venue, the Olympics are awarded to cities and not countries, and Manchester is presumably too far from London to meet the IOC's criteria.A lot of nonsense is spoken by politicians about the cost of the games.....the £9bn+ currently quoted includes approx £3bn of contingency, money set aside for unforseeable problems. If the politicians can keep their interference to a minimum (unlike say at the Scottish Parliament) and leave the professional teams now in place to run the delivery of the Games, there's a fair chance the Games will be delivered on/below budget.We should be looking forward to the games, and the fact that this world class event is to be a little over 2 hours from our doorstep, rather than carping from the sidelines.

sickoflabourcronyismApril 22nd 2008.

The trouble with pleasing all of the minorities all of the time(which labour love to do) is that the majority become a secondary concern. The constant references to ones own sexuality is largely irrelevant and thats what people get fed up of in my personal experience. Pat Karney is known more for being gay than any of the actual work he does and thats what makes me and others worry no doubt! Does that comment make people automatically homophobic? I think not. Labour also love to label and pigeonhole people who don't bend to their ways of thinking and that irritates me too. Incidently most straight men I speak to still are quite homophobic! I'm against large scale immigration (being a typical tory of course!!)does that mean i hate blacks and Poles? Of course not. Its just another area of concern through Labours mismanagement of the country. No border control, threats of terrorism, teenage thugs ruling the streets, alcohol and drug abuse prevalent. Calling people baffoons hardly increases your social or political standing Mr McCaul so im amazed anyone would vote for you on this basis alone. Look at the skills shortages in this country instead. You have failed to provide adequate levels of education for the masses after being in power for over ten years. Children are more illiterate than ever, theres social meltdown, prisons are full to bursting and we are STILL no better off than ten years ago! For gods sake how long can you keep blaming the Tories????The reason the country is in a mess under your rule is that you disinvested in your people over the years to the point we have to source doctors from abroad at great cost to US the taxpayer. The new bus stations,hospitals, clinics and superacademies merely come from the European money trade off from taking in quotas of people from war torn countries such as Africa and Iraq etc....why are they here? we have more than enough people on our doorstep willing to work here. Enoch Powells prophecy is coming sooner than people realise. Thats fact. Like it or not. The working class suburbs are a perfect example of the way Manchester is being flooded with every nationality under the sun taking into account that these areas were already underinvested shows a shocking lack of foresight and planning which, for a government that constantly claims it is forward thinking is letting its own people down very badly.Some may agree some may disagree. thats life. Do you live in an overcrowded multiethnic suburb Mr McCaul or a posh city centre flat? Do you wear red trousers with blue underpants on like most other labourites? Do you get kept up with barking dogs and techno music until the small hours after working a 40 hour week? Didn't think so...........so how on earth then can you relate to the 25% of people who now suffer neighbour nuisance? Enough said.

MORIApril 22nd 2008.

Thankk you Pat, but shouldn't you have concluded with 'that was a party political broadcast on behalf of the Labour Party'.

JamesApril 22nd 2008.

I think Manchester Confidential are part of the established media in Manchester now because there is nothing else apart from MEN and the BBC. They're in by default. I agree with some of the other posters though in that Manchester never had a chance of winning the Olympics. Perhaps we should also begin to understand that winning the Olympics - unlike the World Cup - is no honour. It is a tarnished event associated with Nazis and extremists and people who line their pockets. Given our Peterloo history I'm glad wwe never got it.

MatthewApril 22nd 2008.

The Olympics will be good for London but they also be good business for the whole country bringing attention and investment beyond the capital. I say being them on and let's all enjoy. The truth is there was no chance MAnchester ever winning the Olympic Games.

Mark Garner, The PublisherApril 22nd 2008.

Graham, welcome. Your first column with has done what it should have done. Got right up my nose. In a constructive way. Why, in Gods name hasn't the established media in this City gotten hold of the fact that the cycling isn't being held here? Can this change? Should we, the city of manchester, start an e-petition? We can flood the olympic commitee and the Government with email petitions. I want this changed. Does anyone else? Sir Richard, what is your view?

Philip JohnsonApril 22nd 2008.

I agree that the rest of the country shouldn't have to pay for the Olympics as London is the financial engine of the economy and could easily afford it itself. But it does raise the interesting issue of them having an elected mayor race on at the moment. Shouldn't Manchester also have an elected mayor to excite the population into voting in greater numbers than they are at present. This would work as with London as over and above the smaller individual borough administrations, so in effect it the position would be for an elected mayor for Greater Manchester. Any thoughts Mr Stringer, or maybe a future column?

AnonymousApril 22nd 2008.

Thought the point was that nothing constructive needing doing; the Velodrome has already been constructed!

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