Wharton voices Olympics cash fear

23 January 2008

by Pat Ashworth

On his marks: Canon Duncan Green is licensed by the Bishop of Chelmsford as the C of E’s 2012 Olympic co-ordinator, on Tuesday

On his marks: Canon Duncan Green is licensed by the Bishop of Chelmsford as the C of E’s 2012 Olympic co-ordinator, on Tuesday

TARGETING of resources towards the London 2012 Olympics could leave the north-east without essential funding for some of its most disadvantaged communities, the Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Revd Martin Wharton, warned the House of Lords last Friday.

In a debate on the need to build sustainable communities and secure a worthwhile legacy for the Games, Bishop Wharton warned: “There is a particular concern about the continuing availability of lottery funding. Add to that the significantly reduced ability of the Northern Rock Foundation to fund key local voluntary projects, and the north-east is facing a double whammy.”

Funding from all sources for the voluntary and community sector had been crucial in enabling the north-east to find its way after industrial collapse, the Bishop said. “If the Olympics cause a further decrease in funding availability in our region, we will not be able to claim that the London Olympics have contributed to sustainable communities across the country.”

A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) responded on Tuesday that the 2012 Games would bring the kind of “immense benefits” to the country that the Lottery was set up to achieve, including “a legacy of world-class facilities for the whole country to use”.

“The contribution from the Lottery is for a limited period of time, and we have already made clear there is no reason why existing projects need be affected. We have also guaranteed that voluntary projects run by BIG will not be hit.

“We also made clear there would be no further diversion from good causes beyond that approved by Parliament last week, and that the new licence run by Camelot is likely to lead to between £600 million and £1 billion pounds extra being raised over the next ten years.”

The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, said temples, gurdwaras, mosques, and churches were the community’s social glue, “We need more adequate ways of relating to these communities of social entrepreneurs and to the faith communities in the immediate vicinity of the Olympic developments.”

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