Monday, July 10, 2006

So I have now finally read the infamous PWC report into the plan for a casino on the Dome site in Greenwich. On Friday afternoon I was ushered to a desk in the Council's strategic planning department, given a cup of tea and let loose on the 'commercially sensitive' document.

And my reaction? The main thing I can say at this point is that I remain convinced it should be published, at least in some form. From what I can see (and as the report itself indicates), the commercially confidential information is in the annexes, not the main report. I will therefore be putting in a Freedom of Information request for a partial disclosure of the main report only, without the annexes.

I hope this is successful, as I strongly believe it would be in the Council's interests to publish. The report provides the basis for the assertions made in the Borough's publicly-available application to the Casino Advisory Panel about the huge benefits for the area which will result from a successful bid. It also confirms that without a casino, much of the development of the site envisaged by AEG will not go ahead - something which was also mentioned in the Borough's application, and which AEG have now publicly stated in press coverage of the Prescott saga.

Ah yes, Prescott. The weekend's press investigations have uncovered yet more embarrassing details of his links with Philip Anschutz, which can only serve to taint Greenwich's bid even further. An awful lot of jobs and investment hang on the outcome of this bidding process, and I earnestly hope our Deputy Prime Minister has not wrecked our chances by his foolish behaviour.

PS: After reading the report, I checked my email and found this slightly sinister message from a senior council officer:

"Cllr Fletcher, I was pleased to provide you with access to the Price Waterhouse Cooper report this afternoon. I am sure that you are aware that the information has been provided to you in confidence and I am obliged to remind you that under the Code of Conduct information given to you in confidence must not be disclosed."

Open Government - don't you just love it?


Serf said...

Why can't we just flatten the dome and sell off the land for prime development. It'd fetch a bob or two and without the weight of the dome to support, we could ask all kinds of things from the winning bidders.

Nigel said...

Thanks for your comment serf. Whilst there might be many people who agree with this sentiment, I must say I'm not one of them. The Dome swallowed up an awful lot of public money when it was being built, so it would have been something of a scandal to tear it down, as well as a crushing humiliation for the Government (although this last part I could live with...).

The main problem with the Dome was always its failure to live up to its potential as a major visitor attraction. If the current scheme is a success the taxpayer will finally see some return, which is why it's so important for it to go ahead.