Party Point – October 2012

John Clark writes…

First published: October 2012 – Gazette & Herald

Dear Lord Coe, (or Seb, when I cheered you on),

May I congratulate you on organising a very successful Olympic Games. I approached the bid, let alone the Games, from a critical but supportive view. For example: why were we not putting the £9billion into the Games in Malawi? Maybe we did spend too much on the opening ceremony and maybe we should have used the public sector for security. These are all petty, minor bits compared with the ‘huge success’. My only remaining area of doubt is in reference to the legacy.

There may be a long term benefit in the area where the Games were held. We were also encouraged to believe that the legacy would benefit the whole of Britain.

My reason for writing concerns the legacy in Ryedale. The whole concept seems to have eluded the local council. In February 2012 the Tory controlled council (Ryedale District Council) voted to abolish the post of Sports Development Officer. At the same time £50,000 was added to the budget, ‘just in case’ – a slush fund. Despite the opposition from some councillors the redundancy has been carried out. All this despite the ‘Sports Strategy (2001) calling for the creation of this post so as to help sport in Ryedale.

Unfortunately last month the council continued in the opposite direction to the concept of an Olympic legacy. The council decided on the future of the Ryedale Indoor Bowls Club. Members were given a choice…

The council rejected the option to keep the Bowls Club. This appears to be a case of killing the goose that laid the golden egg. Eggs were smaller and the quality of gold lower – therefore sell. RDC had been receiving £40,000 rent and the current proposal of £10,000 for part of the site was not to be considered. My concerns are these:

  • There is no evidence that the market rent is the £40,000 that the council believe.
  • There is the potential to lose the Bowls Club and be left with a derelict building.
  • There is the possibility of losing an income of £10,000/year and the potential for more.
  • The potential loss to the other users of this building.

This may seem small compared with the massive impact of the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. However a bowls club provides a service to a community. Not only is there sport, there are also community benefits. Many of the members are retired and this is an opportunity to ‘get out’, ‘have exercise and socialise’. If only some of these users retire the long term cost to the NHS and Social Care will outweigh the wishful savings to the council. The Ryedale Indoor Bowls Club has facilities for players in wheelchairs.

What is needed from the Olympic legacy is the encouragement and support of existing sports clubs as well as the opening of new facilities. Your ability to persuade has been obvious from the original Olympic bid to the closing ceremony of the Paralympics. Could you please use these persuasive powers to encourage the controlling group on RDC to reverse their decision to sell at least while they examine the potential for Olympic legacy. It would be sad if 2012 were remembered throughout Britain for the Olympics while in Ryedale we remembered the reduction in sport.

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