Guaranteed bullshit

Number 2 in a series in which the Bristol Blogger publishes information regarding the city’s World Cup bid for the Bristolian public at large that is vastly superior and far more accurate than the information highly paid ‘expert’ Bristol City Council officers are prepared to supply to our elected councillors …

The document above titled ‘2018 World Cup Guarantees’ and dated 23 October 2009 sets out central government commitments to host city applicants – including Bristol – for the 2018 World Cup.

What’s interesting about this letter is that it undermines claims emanating from both senior officers at the Council House and from Lib Dem cabinet members that they were forced to delay their decision about hosting the World Cup until the last minute because they were waiting for government guarantees.

This delay, until the very last minute, has created considerable controversy because the cabinet (possibly believing and acting on advice from officers) – in league with the Chief Exec and the Head of Legal Services – are claiming they have had to suspend part of the council’s constitution, relating to the call-in process, because the decision is now ‘urgent’ and there’s simply not time to hold the decision up any longer without losing the opportunity to bid.

The document proves that Bristol City Council could have taken the bid to cabinet for approval any time after 23 October as both Sheffield and Liverpool have done. Instead Bristol’s bid has been delayed a full month to 24 November leading to this alleged need to suspend the constitution.

Leaving the bid this late also means that the paperwork (running to 66 pages) finally published yesterday is unlikely to be as well scrutinised as a decision with such a huge financial impact should.

The crucial part of the letter, in terms of potential financial impact to the city is this:

At the meeting, the issue of costs was raised. I would like to reiterate that the cost to central government of government guarantees will be considerable. The Treasury have made clear that the costs of the tournament will lie where they fall and we will not be in a position to provide funding to any of the cities in the event of a successful bid. We will, as discussed, look at the potential for lottery funding or supplementary local business rates, as well as exploring other options. However, at this early stage, we are unable to give any commitments of additional funding.

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8 Responses to Guaranteed bullshit

  1. SteveL says:

    Can I just say that as a minion of a Fortune 100 company whose GDP is $ is the same as Britain’s in £, I have never ever seen such a dictatorial set of terms and conditions towards a government, be it local or national.

    For us, govts are customers, especially in times of recession, and they also have the ability to make the tax regime worse, send in the army against you, or do something bad that stops the consumers using our products. We like them on our side, and all negotiations with them emphasise the local industry, the tax we pay, the community benefits, etc.

    This document though, it says “FIFA are in Switzerland, we don’t want to pay any of your national taxes; we want to own all branding and advertising; if you can make any money out of this deal it is up to you, we aren’t going to help you.” And neither will central govt, especially given all lottery sports money is going to pay for Olympics overruns.

    I am jealous, really. The only more one-sided government contracts you are likely to see in public are things like the Warsaw Pact “we can send our tanks in to assist you when we see fit” or between the US and client states “you can elect any government we approve of, and you must sell us your oil”.

  2. Cllr Mark Wright says:

    Come on BB, this is evidence for the last minute delay, not against it! This document was produced on Fri 23rd Oct. The earliest it could have been worked on by officers was the beginning of the week starting 26th Oct. The original cabinet meeting was to be Thursday 5th Nov. For that, the papers would have to be finalised at the end of the week starting 26th Oct. So there would have been 4 days max to consider the implications of this letter! And then there is all the stuff from FIFA and the FA.

    Now, you are right to point out the considerable risks involved in this bid. And SteveL is right to point out the contracts are very one-sided. If officers had just 4 days to work all the consequences through my bet is that this post of yours would instead be attacking the Council for rushing the decision through and risking financial disaster by not spending adequate time checking all the possible legalities!

  3. dreamingspire says:

    What happened to the idea of public servants having to do what’s necessary? So they should have got a move on. My father sometimes had to be out at 4 in the morning, and he simply did it – he was a civil servant – but that was 50 years ago.

  4. thebristolblogger says:

    Considering 90% of it should have been completed anyway….

    I’ve spent my life reaching deadlines. I’ve little truck with people on £100k + a year who can’t.

    As Spire says, that’s the job. And Liverpool and Sheffield managed it.

  5. Seebag says:

    What’s wrong with get it done, whatever it takes, as in the real world, or, and preferable in this case, walk away from it?

  6. s davis says:

    Why don’t officials work at the weekend if an issue is soooooo important?

  7. thebristolblogger says:

    Why is the whole process based around the priorities and working practices of the officers rather than councillors and the public they serve?

  8. Seebag says:

    Oh I know. It’s because Gormlessdroyd is in charge. Now it all makes sense.

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