Region’s pot of Games gold yet to materialise

The Olympic Park, in Stratford, east London
The Olympic Park, in Stratford, east London
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THE organisation responsible for delivering an Olympic Games legacy in Yorkshire has launched a staunch defence of the event’s impact on the region, after damning figures crushed dreams of an economic boost.

Yorkshire Gold, set up to ensure the people, communities and businesses “benefit commercially, culturally and in every other possible way” from London 2012 maintained there will be far reaching benefits.

A Yorkshire Post investigation has revealed the region’s businesses secured little more than half a per cent of the £6.9 billion on offer, with London and the South East securing the lion’s share – nearly £5 billion – of the funding.

Although the Government said £89m came to the region, it can be revealed today no more than £46m actually went into the Yorkshire economy as a number of national and global companies were included by virtue of having a Yorkshire office.

Lauren Pigg, of the Yorkshire Gold Business Club, insisted the benefits from the Games would stretch far into the future, citing the Olympic Torch relay, long-term schools projects, pre-Games training camps and supply chain contracts for local businesses.

“We’ve already seen more than 1.2 million people out on the streets to support the Olympic Torch Relay and enjoy events that were put on around the celebrations,” she said.

“The value to tourism and the profile of Yorkshire and Humber cannot be underestimated. We had film crews from as far away as Australia and national media outlets covering the Torch. This media value is estimated at £17m.

“Many companies who have won contracts to supply to the Games have employed staff and expanded their businesses as a result.

“Other businesses say the contracts have maintained workforces in these tough economic times.”

In Leeds it is estimated the training camps are worth £300,000 in the short term but it is hoped the increased profile will generate tourism, particularly from China and the Netherlands as well as student recruitment.

Bradford should benefit from an immediate financial return of the camps of about £200,000 while the pre-Games boxing camp helped secure a £300,000 investment for a new purpose built Boxing Centre.

Sheffield stands to benefit the most economically from the Games, with training camps generating £600,000 as part of an overall £20m boost.

Business leaders remain unconvinced, however, particularly of what help is available for small and medium size businesses.

CompeteFor is an Olympics online brokerage service designed to match buyers throughout a supply chain with potential suppliers. Despite 8,000 Yorkshire-based companies having registered on the portal and more than 3,000 being shortlisted, it is estimated only 230 supply chain contracts were won in the region from more than 50,000 which were available.

Ian Kelly, Chief Executive of Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce, said: “As a sporting event we hope the Olympics are a great success. In business terms, despite an excellent honourable exception from local company Arco in the Humber, the games were always going to be for London and the South east and by London and the South East.

“We hope the Government will overcompensate by an equivalent £7 billion capital and revenue spend in the years to come to tackle the North-South divide, which so damages our lop-sided economy.”

Mark Goldstone, of the Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The Olympics purchasing process might have generated more for the Yorkshire region than it actually did. How- ever, as a model for large-scale public procurement we would hope that the learning from this could be used on other initiatives.

“Furthermore we would like to see the rhetoric around more SMEs being successful in public procurement to be followed through. The onerous bureaucracy is off-putting for small businesses.”