Latest cost estimates for The Equestrian Games in Greenwich Park

John Bettelley made this Freedom of Information request to Government Olympic Executive

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was refused by Government Olympic Executive.

Dear Sir or Madam,

In view of the significant increases in cost estimates for very many of the Olympic Games sites, could you please let me know what is the current estimate for holding the Equestrian Events in Greenwich Park?

Yours faithfully,

John Bettelley

Sent request to Government Olympic Executive again, using a new contact address.

Richard Taylor left an annotation ()

Following problems communicating with the Government Olympic Executive requests for information from the GOE are now being sent to the freedom of information team at the Department of Culture Media and Sport. The GOE is part of DCMS and the DCMS central disclosure log contains information relating to the GOE.

--

Richard - WhatDoTheyKnow.com volunteer

DAWES TREVOR, Government Olympic Executive

Dear Mr Bettelley

Thank you for your e-mail message of 18 June asking for the current
estimate for holding the equestrian events in Greenwich Park. I am sorry
for the delay in replying.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games
(LOCOG) has responsibility for the staging the Olympic and Paralympic
Games at existing venues. The direct costs associated with staging the
events at existing venues come from LOCOG's revenues which are primarily
derived from commercial sponsorship, broadcast rights, ticket sales and
merchandising/licensing - not from the public purse.

There will be attributable costs to the public purse, for example in
respect of the security and transport functions associated with the
venue. These costs have not yet been identified separately for individual
venues, but they will form part of the overall security and transport
budgets.

You refer to `significant increase in cost estimates for many of the
Olympic Games sites'. The revised public sector funding provision of the
£9.325bn, which was announced in March 2007, is unchanged. This
provision, which includes a significant amount for contingency, covers the
Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) venues and infrastructure construction
programme; the cost of transport improvements such as the upgrades to
Stratford Station and the Docklands Light Railway, and the cost of
security for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

To deal with the impact of the economic downturn, we are putting public
investment into the Olympic Village and the International Broadcasting
Centre/Main Press Centre (IBC/MPC) projects from within the overall
provision. In May 2009 the Government announced that an additional £324m
would be invested in the Village from within the provision, bringing the
total public sector investment in the project to £650m. This investment
has been made available in the expectation that sales of the completed
homes will repay at least this additional £324m.

The ODA has continued to achieve savings across the venues and
infrastructure construction programme, so reducing the burden on
contingency. As a consequence, less contingency will need to be made
available to the ODA to help fund the Olympic Village. The rest of the
funding required will be found from savings achieved. We fully expect to
come in within the overall £9.325bn figure.

The Government regularly publishes detailed financial information on the
London 2012 project and I would draw your attention to the London 2012
Olympic and Paralympic Games Annual Report January 2009 and the London
2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Quarterly Economic Reports May 2009 and
July 2090, all of which are available on the internet at
[1]www.culture.gov.uk

Yours sincerely

Trevor Dawes

Trevor Dawes
Parliamentary & Government Relations Team
Government Olympic Executive
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
6th floor, 2-4 Cockspur Street
London SW1Y 5DH
Tel. (020) 7211 6200

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Dear Mr Dawes.

Thank you for your reply to my FOI request – originated in February.

I am aware that the direct costs for the equestrian events at Greenwich are scheduled to come from LOCOG’s commercially raised funds, with ‘infrastructure’ only costs coming from the public purse. I am also aware of the other information in your reply, but none of it answers my request.

My question relates (for the moment) to the direct costs undertaken by LOCOG.

You will know, of course, that LOCOG is not subject to the FOI act, and they will not respond to any questions on this.

I know that LOCOG’s private funding is below target, and that they are looking at moving certain events from expensive sites to save costs (eg Boxing).

My own interest is in getting the equestrian events moved away from Greenwich Park, which is a wholly unsuitable venue, to somewhere more appropriate and almost certainly less costly.

As it is not possible to engage with LOCOG on this, I came before to the ODA and DCMS to ask this question, and was fobbed off.

It is just not credible that the information I requested does not exist in the DCMS, nor to imply that LOCOG is nothing to do with the DCMS.

I would draw your attention to the following extracts from the National Audit Office Preparations for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Progress Report June 2008.

• “LOCOG was established by a joint venture agreement between the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the Mayor of London and the British Olympic Association. In addition to being the central government organisation to which LOCOG is accountable
(as well as to the other two principal stakeholders), the Department, through the Government Olympic Executive, has the role of co-ordinating delivery of Government commitments to the International Olympic Committee so that LOCOG can deliver the Games in accordance with the Host City Contract.

• The Government Olympic Executive has set up arrangements for monitoring LOCOG’s progress and has formed a Staging Team to do this. The Executive has a series of regular stock-taking meetings at various levels with LOCOG; and the Minister for the Olympics has appointed an experienced business figure to LOCOG’s Board who also sits on the Audit Committee. LOCOG is introducing more comprehensive financial and programme management reporting to the Executive”

Given that the DCMS will be picking up any shortfall through the public purse, given the poor national economic scenario, it is difficult to accept that no one in the highly expensive Olympic management structures within the Ministry is keeping a close eye on what that financial cost and/or exposure might be.

Yours sincerely

John Bettelley

PS: Did you actually read my question again, before you pressed the send button?

BELL, Stephen, Government Olympic Executive

Our Ref: 124959

Dear Mr Bettelley

I refer to your request of 21^st September for:

"In view of the significant increases in cost estimates for very many of
the Olympic Games sites, could you please let me know what is the current
estimate for holding the Equestrian Events in Greenwich Park?"

I am dealing with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
('the Act'). The Act gives you the right to know whether we hold the
information specified in your request and, if that is the case, to have
that information communicated to you, subject to the provisions of the
Act.

We do hold information that falls within the scope of your request.
However, the Department considers some of the information may be exempt
from disclosure under Section 43(2) (commercial interests) of the Freedom
of Information Act 2000.

Under the Act, we need to consider whether the balance of the public
interest lies in our providing you with the information or in maintaining
the exemption and withholding the information.

By virtue of section 10(3), where public authorities have to consider the
balance of the public interest in relation to a request, they do not have
to comply with the request until such time as is reasonable in the
circumstances. The DCMS has not yet reached a decision on the balance of
interest. Due to the need to consider, in all the circumstances of the
case, where the balance of the public interest lies in relation to the
information that you have requested, the Department will not be able to
respond to your request in full within 20 working days. I hope to let you
have a response by 16^th November.

If you need any help or advice or have any questions about this letter,
please contact me quoting the reference number in any communications.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Bell
Freedom of Information Team
Public Engagement and Recognition Unit

Complaints Procedure

If you are unhappy with the way DCMS has handled your request you are
entitled to ask for an internal review of its handling within two calendar
months of the date of this letter. If you wish to make a complaint you
should contact:

FOI Complaints
Public Engagement and Recognition Unit
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street
London, SW1Y 5DH

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information
Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9
5AF.

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Dear Mr Bell,

Thank you for response to my FOI request (originated in February).

I am not at all happy with your response, and would normally request an internal review, but since you say that I will get a further answer by November 16th, I will wait.

I do hope you're not going to say that disclosure is withheld because of upsetting commercial interests. If that is the case, I do hope you will explain fully what commercial interests are exposed here, because I completely fail to see how that could apply in the context of my enquiry.

Yours sincerely,

John Bettelley

BELL, Stephen, Government Olympic Executive

Our Ref: 124959

Dear Mr Bettelley

Thank you for your email of 21^st September 2009 requesting the current
cost estimates for the equestrian events for the 2012 Games.

We have dealt with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
("the Act"). Under the Act, you have the right to:

. know whether we hold the information you have requested; and
. be provided with that information (subject to any exemptions under
the Act which might apply).

You request was in the following terms

"In view of the significant increases in cost estimates for very many of
the Olympic Games sites, could you please let me know what is the current
estimate for holding the Equestrian Events in Greenwich Park?"

As you are aware, the costs of installing the venue at Greenwich Park,
together with those of staging the events in the Park, will be met by the
London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games
Limited ("LOCOG"). LOCOG is primarily privately financed, through
sponsorship, ticket sales, merchandising and broadcast rights. As
required by the International Olympic Committee, the United Kingdom
Government has agreed to act as the ultimate guarantor of Olympic funding.

We do not hold estimates for all costs associated with the London 2012
equestrian events in Greenwich Park because plans for those events are
still being developed by LOCOG. However, we do hold estimates provided by
LOCOG of some of the costs and, accordingly, we hold some information
within the scope of your request.

Save for the cost information set out in the London Candidate File, which
is publically available and which I assume that you are not requesting,
the information provided by LOCOG to DCMS as to its estimates of costs is
information provided in confidence and with the expectation that such
confidence will be upheld. For us to disclose this information to you
without LOCOG's consent would be an actionable breach of our obligation of
confidence to LOCOG in this respect. Accordingly, the information you
have requested is "exempt information" under section 41 (information
provided in confidence) of the Act. The exemption in section 41 is an
absolute exemption (see section 2 of the Act).

Secondly, and in any event, LOCOG has not yet let all of the contracts
relating to the London 2012 events in Greenwich Park. To release the
information you have requested would or would be likely to prejudice its
negotiating position in relation to those contracts and prevent it from
obtaining best value for money. Accordingly, the information you have
requested is also "exempt information" under section 43(2) (commercial
sensitivity) of the Act.

Public Interest Test

The exemption in section 43(2) of the Act is a qualified exemption.
Accordingly, in dealing with your request we considered whether the public
interest in upholding the exemption and withholding the information
outweighs that in disclosing it.
We have noted and considered the arguments in favour of disclosure of the
information requested. In particular, we recognise that there is a clear
public interest in transparency in accountability of public funds. As we
have noted above, LOCOG is primarily privately financed. However, we have
taken into account that the Government is the ultimate guarantor of
Olympic funding, that the public are entitled to ensure that public money
is used effectively and that disclosure of relevant information would
assist in maintaining public confidence in the management of public funds.
Against those public interest factors, we balanced those that favour
upholding the exemption in section 43(2) and continuing to withhold the
information. In particular, we considered the public interest in
maintaining the exemption where disclosure of information would or would
be likely to prejudice LOCOG's ability to obtain the best possible value
for money by undermining contractual negotiations. Future negotiations
regarding various contracts would or would be likely to be prejudiced if
the information you requested were to be prematurely disclosed. We have
borne in mind that LOCOG is primarily privately financed and that to the
extent that it is publically supported, it is also in the public interest
that LOCOG's ability to obtain the best value for money in its contracts
is not prejudiced. Further, it in is in the public interest for LOCOG to
be able to provide DCMS with commercially sensitive information so that
DCMS can undertake its oversight role, without prejudicing LOCOG's own
commercial interactions.
After careful consideration of the competing interests, we concluded that
the public interest in favour of maintaining the exemption in section
43(2) of the Act outweighs that in favour of disclosure.

Accordingly, for both reasons given above, we must continue to withhold
the information we hold relating to you request.

If you would like clarification on any of the above or would like further
assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Regards,

Stephen Bell
Freedom of Information Team
Public Engagement and Recognition Unit

Complaints Procedure

If you are unhappy with the way DCMS has handled your request you are
entitled to ask for an internal review of its handling within two calendar
months of the date of this letter. If you wish to make a complaint you
should contact:

FOI Complaints
Public Engagement and Recognition Unit
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street
London, SW1Y 5DH

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information
Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9
5AF.

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