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Mayor blasts flawed decision to invest in OS

Filed: Tuesday, 17th July 2018
By: Staff Writer

The new major of Newham Council has accused her predecessor of throwing £40million "down the drain" as part of a "flawed" plan to support West Ham United's move from Upton Park to Stratford.

The borough's new major, Rokhsana Fiaz, last night accused Sir Robin Wales, who led Newham Council for more than 20 years prior to her selection earlier this year of approving the scheme despite having been warned by financial experts that the investment was "not value for money".

Speaking at a council meeting on Monday evening, Ms Fiaz criticised Wales for ignoring what in hindsight proved to be valuable advice in the wake of the release of an independent report into the matter.

"The report helpfully tells us that concerns raised by financial advisers at the time - namely that a £3 million return on a £40 million investment wasnít achievable - was ignored," she said.

"So while the council had the legal power to invest in the stadium, the final decision to invest £40 million in March 2013 was flawed.

"The council wrongly decided that one of its own self-imposed conditions for investment - the condition of an annual financial return of £3 million per annum - was met, despite financial experts casting doubt on that.

"So ultimately, that was £40 million of investment by Newham council down the drain.

"The vision for the stadium and the benefits it could provide was exciting. But frankly the enthusiasm for the stadiumís potential far outweighed the scrutiny that should have happened."

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Ms Fiaz's comments will do little to help heal the apparent rift between Council and club, which follow on from comments made by West Ham vice chair Karren Brady last week regarding the decision to keep the statue featuring West Ham United's 1966 World Cup winners in Upton Park.

"Your decision to keep the statue at Barking Road will result in what will be perceived as a broken promise," she wrote, before adding what appeared to be a threat: "You should consider this as a risk... in the context of events at London Stadium in March this year."

Newham, one of the poorest boroughs in London invested more than £50million in the project - an initial investment of £40m plus an addition £10million between 2015 and 2017, for which they are reported to have received the use of the stadium for 10 days every year.

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Last December, current London mayor Sadiq Khan called what he referred to the "spiralling costs" associated with the stadium conversion as "simply staggering", whilst cited predecessor Boris Johnson as being responsible for the overspend.

"It reveals a bungled decision-making process that has the previous mayorís fingerprints all over it"," said Khan.

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   arrow   In brief - Wednesday's news round-up [18th Jul 2018]
   arrow   Mayor blasts flawed decision to invest in OS [17th Jul 2018]
   arrow   Defeat for Brady as last-minute appeal dismissed [4th Jul 2018]
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