Board Split On Future Of London’s Olympic Stadium; West Ham Option Could Cost $1B

If EPL club West Ham United is chosen to move into the Olympic Stadium at a “crucial” London Legacy Development Corp. board meeting next month, the stadium is “likely to have cost at least £630M ($1B) by the time it reopens in ’15 or ’16,” according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. The club believes that its tenancy bid “remains the only viable solution to secure the long-term health of the Olympic Park and a future free of public subsidy.” But some who will make the decision believe that, as the costs continue to increase, “it would be better to press ahead with the quicker, cheaper option of reopening it as a multi-use stadium without football.” The board remains split and will discuss at a meeting next month whether to move forward with a full-scale plan that would install retractable seats, a cantilevered roof and permanent hospitality facilities “at a cost approaching £200M ($318.5M).” Even “at the most conservative estimate the conversion budget would be £160M ($254.8M) including £25M ($39.8M) of contingency,” and the overall cost “could end up being £200M.” LLDC CEO Dennis Hone admitted that it could be Aug. ’16 “before the first competitive match is played in the stadium.” Additionally, insiders now believe that the stadium “could be reopened for less than the £38M ($60.5M) already put aside by the LLDC from the original £9.3B ($14.8B) public funding package” if the decision was taken to drop West Ham and pursue an alternative option to appoint a stadium operator that could coordinate a program of athletics, concerts and other sports. Under the scenario, the stadium “could open by spring ’14.” But the majority of the board, including London Mayor Boris Johnson, “is understood still to favour the West Ham option” (GUARDIAN, 11/19).

DECISION TIME:
The GUARDIAN’s Gibson in “The Sport Blog” added three days after West Ham submitted its “best and final” offer to become the stadium’s main tenant, the LLDC’s 17 members remain “split over the two remaining options on the table.” Rather than closing down the stadium for another four years, some board members argue that it is “best to appoint an experienced stadium operator such as AEG or LiveNation and let them go with it — even if it requires a modest ongoing public subsidy.” The plan proposes that the stadium could open by spring ’14. The majority, led by Johnson, “continue to believe that a future involving West Ham, athletics, concerts and other one-off events including cricket and rugby, is the best solution.” They “will have to convince the remaining waverers” that the club’s final offer, believed to be “significant” improvement on the £10M ($15.9M) originally tendered, “is sufficient testament of the seriousness” of West Ham’s intentions. If they can hit their latest deadline of reaching a decision before the end of the year after discussing their next move at a board meeting on Dec. 5, Hone and Johnson “will then have an equally hard job on their hands: ensuring the ongoing farrago does not burst the popular image of the Olympics as a bubble of golden success” (GUARDIAN, 11/19).

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2012 London Olympics: Bad for business

The influx of tourists to the city for the 2012 London Olympic Games had caused excitement among businesses all over London, yet statistics show that during the Olympic period, UK retail sales fell and online sales plunged the most in five years.

Shoppers – both online and on the high street – were said to be distracted by the Olympic Games, causing an unanticipated drop in sales. Economists predict further falls in UK retail sales due to inflation and weak consumer confidence.

For more details, read the article on the Bloomberg website

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Atos Protests Continue

New protests have been planned to force Glasgow 2014 to drop Atos as sponsors.

This news comes after demonstrations were held in tandem with the paralympics, protesting against Atos’s poor record in their fit-for-work assessments.

The coming protests still aim to bring the inferior assessments to public light and are hoping to take Atos out of the sponsor list for Glasgow 2014, where they are hoping to gain good press.

Below is a video of one of the protests held during the paralympics games


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The Dark Side of Olympic Sponsor, Coca-Cola

As one of the world’s largest brands, Coca-Cola is drunk globally at most major events, organisations and in normal day-to-day life, but controversy is never far away from the corporation’s door as their actions are felt by all of those unable to defend themselves.

They pedal their work in communities, but always fail to mention their crippling effects on non-western countries, the drastic effects to the environment around their bottling plants and the mysterious deaths associated with their work.

The Olympic sponsor’s chokehold on the drinks market is unassailable, but as opposition to their activity grows, legal challenges will continue to bombard Coca-Cola until something drastic changes in their behind-the-scenes work.

Carmen Garcia and German Gutierrez made the following film telling the story of Daniel Kovalik and Terry Collingsworth as they attempt to take on one of the most recognisable companies on the planet using The Alien Tort Claims Act, an act dating back to the early days of the American Constitution.

Click below to watch the film on the ever-intriguing thoughtmaybe.

Wikipedia hosts a broad summary of a number of the criticisms of Coca-Cola.

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Olympic impact on UK retail sales

Olympic impact on UK retail sales. August brings the worst sales growth this year.

UK retail sales values were down by 0.4% on a like-for-like basis from August 2011, when they were down 0.6% on the preceding year. On a total basis, sales were up 1.6%, against a 1.5% rise in August 2011.

Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: “There’s no evidence here of any Olympic boost to retail sales overall. Sadly, apart from April – distorted by Easter timings – August saw the worst sales growth this year.

It’s clear people were absorbed by the magnificent Olympics and had little interest in shopping, especially for major items. Usually-reliable online sales suffered, putting in the worst sales growth since we started the measure four years ago. Some retailers told us online activity was particularly thin in the evenings. If people weren’t watching television they were more likely to be following the sport on PCs and mobile devices than shopping.

Full article: http://www.brc.org.uk/brc_news_detail.asp?id=2282

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Paralympics: Politicians booed for benefit cuts

 

 

 

 

 

British Conservative politicians have been booed at the Paralympics in London amid protests against cuts to disability benefits.

The government has faced heat for awarding Paralympic Games sponsors Atos a contact to carry out “fitness to work tests” on people on incapacity benefits, which opponents claim has driven disabled people to poverty and even suicide.

Atos Healthcare, a global IT company, was given the £400m (NZ$796m) contact at the beginning of last month.

The British government claims more than £600m (NZ$1.19b) each year is being spent on overpayments to people who no longer qualify for the level of benefits they are receiving, the BBC reports, and so is now basing its payments on the Atos Work Capability assessments.

However, action group Disabled People Against The Cuts says less than 0.4 per cent of incapacity payments are fraudulent, but the government is looking to cut spending in the area by 20 per cent.

Opponents to the assessments say more than 1,000 people who had their benefits cut as they were deemed fit work subsequently died last year.

DPAC’s Roger Lewis told the BBC the assessments were causing “huge damage and distress to disabled people”.

“We now have a situation where we know that people have gone through the Atos assessments who have unfortunately died as a result. Some have committed suicide. Some have had heart attacks.”

Last Friday saw a large protest at the Atos’s London headquarters, as well as a demonstration at the Department for Work and Pensions, also in the capital.

Both Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne have now been loudly booed by crowds at Paralympic events.

Cameron received his negative reception when he was shown on the big screen at the Aquatic Centre, while Osborne was on the end of deafening disapproval at a packed London Olympic Stadium as he was announced to present the medals for the 400m T38.

Not all UK politicians have been booed by Paralympic crowds, with former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown receiving a “rather contrasting reaction” as he presented medals at the swimming, the Guardian reported.

It is not clear if the reception for the Conservative MPs is related to the Atos contract, or simply a reflection of the slumping support for the Tory-led Government in the polls.

British paralympians have also spoken out against proposed cuts to the disability living allowance, telling the Guardian that without benefit they would not have been able to participate in society, let alone sport.

“Without DLA I would not have been able to do what I did or be a top athlete,” Ade Adepitan, former-Paralympic wheelchair medallist told the paper.

Athletes also hid their security pass lanyards, which bear the Atos logo, during the opening ceremony to the games, however ParalympicsGB rejected this was a protest, rather claimed they had been tucked under their uniforms as it was windy.

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London 2012 Olympic Games legacy ‘non-existent’, says medalist Liz McColgan

 

 

 

 

 

Olympic medalist Liz McColgan has said she fears that a generation of aspiring athletes will see no benefit from any “legacy” from the London Games.

The former long-distance runner, from Dundee, directed her concern to politicians during an event in the Scottish Parliament.

She said little has changed since she was young.

“I still coach kids who are paying £3 to get into a track that has very bad lighting. I can’t see them in the winter time. There’s only one toilet. There’s no drinks available,” she pointed out.

“It’s quite sad that we’ve had so much success at the Olympics, and we’ve got 112 kids who all want to be like Mo Farah, and I can see that the cycle track that’s just 100m along across the park is exactly the same, the swimming clubs are exactly the same.

Were we prepared? No we weren’t.

We are probably going to let down a lot kids who are so enthused from the success that we had. Kids nowadays have got a great access to television. I didn’t have that in my day. They see it and they want it.

I feel the Government, the associations have let us down because we are not prepared to deal with all these kids that want to be the next Chris Hoy or Kat Grainger.”

Ms McColgan, who won silver in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and two golds in Commonwealth competitions, said it was lucky that the 2012 Games were a success.

Speaking as a panellist at the Festival of Politics in Holyrood, she said: “I believe there’s no legacy that I can see left in my neck of the woods. We’re left to our own devices.”

In a direct plea, she said: “I’ve sat on many, many panels like this and nothing happens. Everyone’s got great ideas but nothing happens. Why not just listen for once and take action?”

She was joined on the panel by former Scotland rugby player John Beattie who also complained about a lack of action to stimulate investment in sport for children.

He suggested private funding for state school sport, adding that he feels guilty about the high standards he enjoyed at private school.

“I don’t think it’s a Government thing alone. There’s a whole corporate world that should be getting into this because there’s no way you’re getting more money,” he said.

“The next step to make it work would be corporate money coming into the school system to sponsor leagues, to pay teachers extra.”

The panel also included sports journalist Alison Walker and Scottish Sports Association policy director Kim Atkinson, and was chaired by Labour MSP John Park.

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Atos protesters clash with police in ‘day of action’ against the Paralympic sponsors

 


The Paralympic sponsor Atos has been targeted by disability and anti-cuts demonstrators in angry protests at its role in testing disabled people to reassess their eligibility for benefit payments.
Hundreds of disabled and able-bodied protesters chanted outside the IT group’s central London headquarters, before moving to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in Westminster, the government department in charge of the scheme. There were minor scuffles with police after a small number of protesters occupied the lobby and attempted to blockade the department’s front entrance.
Atos has been the focus of fierce controversy over its sponsorship of the Games while contracted by the DWP to carry out “fitness to work” tests, which campaigners argue are part of a money-saving drive to reduce benefit payments.
Campaigners say the scheme, worth £100m a year, has driven many disabled people into poverty or, in some cases, to suicide. Micheline Mason, who has used a wheelchair all of her life, said she had come to the protest, called by Disabled People Against the Cuts and UK Uncut, because she was “just so angry and so horrified at the demonising of disabled people. We’re being used as an excuse for the government to take resources from the poorest, most vulnerable people.”
Atos, she said, was “an agent of a policy that has already driven people to suicide and even those it hasn’t, has added such hardship and fear and uncertainty and insecurity to the last people who need to be feeling that”.
Atos Healthcare, a subsidiary of the French IT multinational, is contracted by the DWP to carry out “work capability assessments” of people receiving incapacity benefits, in which they are scored on whether assessors judge them able to work.
But campaigners say many of those whose benefits are slashed or removed remain incapable of holding down a job, citing research showing that, during one nine-month period last year, 1,100 people who had been judged able to work and had their benefits slashed accordingly had died.
Some 40% of the 738,000 assessments carried out last year were appealed against, of which 38% were upheld.
Several people at the protest cited the case of Cecilia Burns, 51, from Strabane, Co Derry, who died this week from breast cancer despite being told in February that she was well enough to get a job, after which her employment support allowance was reduced to £30 a week. After a campaign her benefits were reinstated a few weeks ago but she died on Monday, the BBC reported.
Claire Glasman, from north London, said she felt that “disabled people are under the harshest attack that we have faced since the welfare state was set up”. She described the results of the tests as “a humanitarian disaster” and said that disabled people were feeling increasingly desperate after lobbying parliament and MPs without significant results. “It’s just an absolute crisis. You can see we are just at the end of our tether,” she said.
The comedian Jeremy Hardy said he had attended the protest because “I just think the way the coalition has decided to victimise people with disabilities is so blatant and shameless, and they are willfully creating a new stereotype and a new scapegoat, suggesting that hard-working people’s money is being siphoned off to the undeserving.
“It’s just so cynical, because that strategy is being targeted at people who don’t have much, trying to make them hate people who have less.”
On Thursday, ParalympicsGB officials denied British athletes at the Games had hidden their accreditation badges at the opening ceremony, after observers noted that none was displaying the lanyard that bears the sponsor’s logo.
In a statement, Atos said: “We fully respect people’s right to peaceful protest and we understand this is a highly emotive issue.
“We do not make decisions on people’s benefit entitlement or on welfare policy but we will continue to make sure that service that we provide is as highly professional and compassionate as it can be. We do this through a constant program of training and education for our staff, a rigorous recruitment process for healthcare professionals and through continual work with the government, disability rights groups, healthcare professionals and those going through the process on the ground.
“At Atos we have proudly supported the Paralympics movement for a decade. We hope people will view the Games as we do, as an opportunity to celebrate sporting achievements.”
A government spokesman added: “It’s disappointing that a small number of organisations are protesting against sponsorship of the Paralympic Games, which is an opportunity to showcase the talents of disabled people and act as a catalyst for our sporting talents of the future.”
Lord Coe, the London 2012 chairman, also reiterated his support for Atos as a sponsor at a press conference. “They are helping us with accreditation and they are helping us with the recruitment of volunteers. They are helping the media with the delivery of results. They have been in the Olympic and Paralympic space for a long time. You know my view, we can’t do this without sponsors. So the short answer is that I am pleased they’re here. They are helping us.”

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ATOS KILLS

Man in coma loses benefits as he's classified "fit for work"

‘The government’s decision to crack down on the disabled takes a bizarre turn this week after a man in a coma was stripped of his benefits – because he’d not handed his fitness-for-work questionnaire in.

In a thread on rightsnet.org.uk on Thursday Reading Community Welfare Rights Unit deputy manager Sam Harney noted:

Client’s husband is in hospital in a coma. He was sent ESA501.

Client contacted DWP to explain situation and was asked to obtain letter from hospital confirming he is in a coma. Did so. Was told to send it to ATOS rather than local BDC. Did so. Husband has now received decision letter – yep, as he has failed to return the ESA50 without good cause and is therefore capable of work [he is] no longer entitled to ESA…

The decision is part of a lengthening list of seemingly nonsensical judgements handed down by ATOS healthcare since it was appointed to oversee benefits claims in 2005 – another notable case is that of Larry Newman, who was told to stop slacking and get back to work despite having an incurable lung disease, which killed him just months after his assessment.

The firm has been targeted repeatedly over the last few years by campaigners under the banner ATOS KILLS, with activists pointing to a sharp rise in applications against the decisions being made, with 40% of appeals being successful overall rising to 70% where legal representation is used.’

Disabled People Against Cuts need your help and support! Visit DPAC on facebook to receive updates of information and events and stop ATOS ruining peoples lives and getting away with murder!

We are coming after you ATOS. In Parliament, in the Courts, online, and on the streets…LET THE ATOS GAMES BEGIN!!!

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Heavy rain puts the Pringle to the test..

 

‘The pringle’, the nickname for the new London velodrome where Olympic cyclists race this summer, has sprung into the headlines for having “minor leaks” in its roof due to the “heavy rain” England has been experiencing these past weeks, as confirmed by a London 2012 spokesman.

This announcement leads us to question the quality of the Olympic ‘legacy’.

In the end, what we really need to be grateful for, is that it rarely rains in England…

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