The ODA’s promise to provide a community legacy from reuse of the Leyton Marsh Olympic basketball training venue court floors has been revealed to be a cynical piece of PR following a Freedom of Information request to UK Sport.
Among many dishonest tactics used to help gain planning approval and mollify the local community, the ODA claimed in their planning application in December 2011 that the top-quality modular wooden court floors “will be reused at local community venues”.
The truth was that local people would not even get a glimpse of the floors inside the £5.5m bunkers that commandeered and damaged Leyton Marsh, despite the ODA’s representative Mark Sorrell claiming to Waltham Forest planning committee that a public open day would be arranged – an event that of course never materialised.
The FOI response reveals that following the Paralympics the floors were “provided to UK Sport as a legacy item” and are sitting in storage at the Glasgow Emirates Stadium, where they may be “available to NGBs (National Governing Bodies) across the UK at future major events”. In other words they were never going to be played on by the amateur hoi polloi of Waltham Forest or Hackney.
Even if they do see the light of day to be used by elite athletes at an international competition, this is a blatant breach of the promises made a year ago. There is no evidence that any attempt was made to find a local home for them – or that UK Sport paid for them with the cash to be invested locally in lieu of the floors themselves.
UK Sport are a quango which strategically invests £100m a year of public money attempting to win UK medals on the world stage. As they make clear on their website, they are not interested in community sports:
“UK Sport has a very clear remit at the ‘top end’ of Britain’s sporting pathway, with no direct involvement in community or school sport… Using a ‘No Compromise’ philosophy which targets investment at those most likely to deliver medals at Olympic and Paralympic level”
See also There’s a bad ODA left round here