LIB DEMS KEEP UP THE PRESSURE ON OLYMPIC CONTRACTS FOR THE REGION

March 4, 2009 12:01 AM

The Liberal Democrat Parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle East, Greg Stone, has called on the Government to publish a list of contracts awarded for the 2012 London Olympics, following a commitment to do so from the Sport Minister, Gerry Sutcliffe in Parliament yesterday.

There is a growing concern in the North East that the net benefit to the region from the Olympics may be negligible, following news that regional grassroots sports and culture Lottery funding would need to be cut by circa £100 million to subsidise the vast Olympic overspend.

Greg Stone said: "Given that the whole country is paying for something which primarily benefits East London, including provision of a shiny new high speed rail link, the Government has a duty to ensure that there is a genuinely national benefit.

"In the midst of difficult economic times, the procurement of goods and services from North East businesses could be a significant stimulus to regional employment creation and economic growth.

"However there are persistent rumours circulating that only a tiny fraction of the contracts let to date are heading to the North East, and that the value is set to be far less than the net cut in regional sports funding.

"The Government needs to honour its commitment to publish the list of firms benefiting from contracts let to date, in order to allow a transparent assessment of the economic benefit to this region.

"If rumours are correct and the total amount of business won by this region is negligible, the two North East regional ministers need to explain precisely what steps they are taking to ensure more regional firms can benefit from this opportunity.

"Otherwise, the fear is that the Olympics could end up like the Millennium Dome as a monumental wasted opportunity."