Campaign calling for Olympic Park funds to be returned goes on

Web olympic stadium, london, 14 june 2011 cropped

The government opted to use £425 million from the Big Lottery Fund for the project

15th August 2017 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

The campaign to ensure money handed over to the Olympic Park building project is given back is continuing.

A decade has passed since the government decided to take £425 million from the Big Lottery Fund to help fund infrastructure for London 2012.

The government has pledged to repay the money – which would normally go to funding community projects across the UK – but as yet has not fulfilled its promise.

The Directory of Social Change (DSC) has been leading the Big Lottery Refund campaign, and has the backing of more than 3,800 charities.

“It is 10 years since they raided the money,” said DSC director of policy and research Jay Kennedy. “When that happened they made a pledge that it would be repaid after the Olympics, which is now five years ago.

“The government have been dragging their heels, and have been saying that it was always going to be repaid over decades. We are calling on them to repay the money, as charities need it now.”

The Olympic Stadium was packed out for much of the recent World Athletics Championships, and Premiership team West Ham have been based at the ground for the past year.

The football club signed a 99-year lease deal to use the stadium for an annual rent of £2.5m and a one-off payment of £15m. The deal was criticised as more than £700m was spent on the stadium, the majority of which has been publicly funded.

“It’s gone from selling the stadium to giving it to a Premier League club for very little on a long lease,” said Kennedy. “It raises the question of the sincerity of it all.

“The positive side is that there have been at least four governments since 2007 and they have all pledged to pay the money back. It is just a question of when. What we are doing is to keep them to account.”

The government has said that repayment of the money will start in the early 2020s.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: "We have always been clear how this money will be returned.

"We are committed to paying back the £425 million the Big Lottery Fund contributed to support the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, with payment due to start in the early 2020s."

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