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Olympics double whammy for Wales says Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price

COMMUNITY projects in the poorest parts of Wales will suffer a double whammy thanks to a decision to divert large amounts of Lottery funding to the London Olympics, a Welsh MP has claimed.

Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price said research by Alliance, the coalfield communities campaign representing local authorities in former mining areas, suggested projects in Wales would lose £107m as a result.

But, said Mr Price, Wales will lose out a second time when all the proceeds of selling the Olympics site after the Games in 2012 go to regeneration projects in London.

Statistics compiled by Alliance suggest Blaenau Gwent will lose £2.1m in Lottery funding, Bridgend £4.7m, Caerphilly £6.2m, Flintshire £5.5m, Merthyr Tydfil £2m, Neath Port Talbot £4.9m, Powys £4.8m, Rhondda Cynon Taf £8.4m, Torfaen £3.3m and Mr Price’s home county of Carmarthenshire £6.5m. Other parts of Wales would miss out too, bringing the loss up to £107m.

Mr Price said, “These statistics show the shocking impact the London Olympics is having on projects and charities in Wales. With a recent Government report indicating the cost of hosting the Olympics could rise again, who knows what the final price Wales will pay for the regeneration of London [will be]. While the London Development Agency will receive the money for selling the land off after the games, Wales will receive nothing from that transaction. It seems extremely unfair that Wales should have to suffer the burden of paying for this development but not receive the benefits when it is auctioned off.”

Mr Price added, “Recently Betws Family Centre in my constituency was refused a grant from the Lottery. It is now facing possible closure. We have written to the Lottery about this and are awaiting their response. The richest city in Britain is receiving Lottery money that would otherwise be earmarked for some of our poorest and most vulnerable communities.”

In his column for the Welsh language magazine Golwg, Mr Price writes, “Since it was established in 1995 the National Lottery has made an increasing contribution towards regenerating deprived communities. Perhaps the first things that spring to mind are iconic buildings such as The Millennium Stadium and Centre – but there are thousands of small projects throughout the country which have built and restored confidence on a local level. But now that confidence is being sacrificed to feed a building project in Europe’s richest city.

“Originally the Lottery was to contribute only £410m towards the Olympic Games. If creative calculating were an Olympic event then this Government would be a dead cert for gold. It was, therefore, a disappointment rather than a shock when Tessa Jowell announced earlier this year that the Lottery would have to fork out more, much more, than what was promised at the beginning.”

From: Olympics double whammy for Wales – MP, Martin Shipton, Western Mail, Dec 14 2007.

More at: Western Mail

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