Bromley’s £20m threat to Sport England

Bromley council is threatening to force Sport England to pay up to £20m to remedy “dilapidations” to the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre that have allegedly occurred during its 14-year tenancy from the council.

This latest twist in the saga of Bromley’s mishaps with Crystal Palace Park projects emerged when councillors June 1 angrily debated Sport England’s May 19 rejection of Bromley’s £32m bid for Sports Lottery Funding for its £40m National Sports Centre modernisation. Bromley’s scheme has now been abandoned with a loss of over £1m in public funds spent on design and preparation.

Cllr Joan Wykes (Con) exclaimed “We’ve been led up the garden path … I’d like to take Sport England to the cleaners.” Cllr Mike Hall (Lib Dem) suggested serving Sport England with a Section 146 Notice for dilapidations totalling £20m, and Beryl Cook, Bromley’s legal officer agreed, saying that her department was working along these lines.

The council also agreed to have no further involvement, except as landlord and planning body, in the alternative and smaller-scale £10m refurbishment scheme put forward by Sport England for the centre.

All this contrasted with a press release from the council prior to the meeting in which co-leader Cllr Chris Maines (Lib Dem) stated: “I am also pleased that Sport England will now be taking a lead in developing a new scheme and we look forward , as both the landlord and local planning authority to considering their proposals”.

The Crystal Palace Campaign, which supports Sport England’s proposals providing the local community is properly consulted, believes that Bromley still has many questions to answer:

• How could it have spent £1m of public funds when it did not have a definite commitment for the Sports Lottery money?

• How can its councillors and officers pose as victims, when they have so mismanaged matters that they have been refused two major bids for Lottery funding in succession – the first being the 1998 Heritage Lottery Fund’s rejection of their bid for £26m for their £28m scheme to re-landscape the park?

• How can Bromley pretend that these fiascos do not demand that the unwanted giant cinema multiplex proposed for the top of Crystal Palace Park now be halted and a community-supported alternative be sought?

Robbie Stoakes, Bromley’s Director of Leisure & Community Services, told a questioner from the public gallery last Thursday that the loss of the Sports Lottery funding had ”no impact” on the multiplex proposals.

“With respect, we disagree. Bromley’s head is in the sand. A public inquiry is now imperative”, said Fred Emery, CPC spokesman.

Note to Editors: Of Bromley’s core schemes for regenerating Crystal Palace Park, only the cinema multiplex remains and, apart from continuing legal challenges, it is opposed by Mayor Ken Livingstone, many GLAs , local MPs, the MEP, and councillors, amenity groups and tens of thousands of residents in the four adjoining boroughs.

Acting Press Officer: Fred Emery 020 8761 0076 Mobile: 0794 117 2023
Correspondence to: Hon Secretary, 33 HogarthCourt, Fountain Drive,
London SE19 1UY Telephone/fax: 020 8670 8486 Website: www.crystal.dircon.co.uk

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4 June 2000 Last updated 4 June 2000