Legacy 2014 - has it arrived?

Written by Kate Shannon on 7 July 2015 in Inside Politics

A look at the legacy of Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games

Glasgow - you were pure, dead brilliant.”

For many, the words of Prince Imran, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation, at the closing ceremony of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, summed up the whole event.

After more than seven years in the planning, it was undoubtedly with feelings of pride that Glasgow handed the baton over to Australia’s Gold Coast. The 2014 Games were widely considered a huge success and Prince Imran further echoed the thoughts of many when he said Scotland, and Glasgow, had “delivered in every aspect the best Games ever”.


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A recent report from the Auditor General and Accounts Commission backed up this view - it said early evidence showed the Glasgow event compared favourably to previous Games. Around 1.2m tickets were sold, over 4,800 athletes took part and £118m was raised from ticket sales, sponsorship and other private funding.

The report also found the Games cost the public sector £37.2m less than budgeted and it praised the project for having strong leadership and organisations which worked well together. Accounts Commission chairman Douglas Sinclair said: “The Games have been widely seen as a success, and our report adds to this positive picture. Strong controls and good planning resulted in a £37.2 million underspend of public money, money which will now be returned to the public sector.

“The partner organisations and businesses worked very well together to make the Games a great success. As this is a really strong example of successful partnership working, it’s really important for learning from this project to be shared within the public sector, to help future work.”

The report also stated that clear legacy plans are in place but the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council now needs to build on these to ensure long-term benefits are achieved.
Auditor General Caroline Gardner added: “Working to ensure a legacy has been part and parcel of planning for the Games, and we’ve seen a good start on this. With ongoing pressures in public sector budgets it is all the more important for the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council to ensure the planned legacy benefits are achieved.

“They need to continue to evaluate the impact to ensure the Games achieves their longer-term aims such as a healthier population and better life chances for people living in the East End of Glasgow.”

But when the athletes and visitors had packed up and left the city, what has been the real legacy of the Games?

The idea of legacy was cemented in the planning and delivery of the event. Jamie Hepburn, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, told Holyrood: “In terms of the formal [legacy] programme, it started before the Games itself. It is essentially a 10-year process which started five years before the Games and will finish and be thoroughly evaluated five years after. 

“However, much of the legacy will continue for as long as the facilities exist. Another key part of the legacy is we’ve learned a lot about hosting top class sporting events and we continue to see the benefits of that. We will shortly see the World Gymnastics Championships being hosted in Glasgow in the Hydro. Then in 2018 we have jointly secured Glasgow to host the inaugural European Sports Championships which will be the first European, multidisciplinary sporting event of its type.”

Speaking about the overall legacy of Glasgow 2014, Hepburn added: “There’s the obvious physical legacy that has been left, primarily for the East End of Glasgow and that’s right because it was the focal point of the Games. We’ve now got a world-class sporting facility in the Emirates Arena in the heart of the East End of Glasgow, we’ve got the Chris Hoy Velodrome which is not only going to attract top-class events but we also have the Glasgow Rocks basketball club based there. 

“Crucially, and whenever I’ve been there it’s the thing I like to see the most, we have members of the public going in there and using them. Of course we’ve seen the utilisation of the Games Village that has now been transformed into residential accommodation for people in the area.

"We’ve also seen the Dalmarnock Legacy Hub which will shortly open. It is a really great, community-led project which is going to host a GP surgery, a nursery and all form of community activities. Even the renovation of Dalmarnock Train Station, that physical legacy is very obvious and we can see that transformation, that’s an obvious benefit. 

“In terms of other infrastructure legacy, you can see examples across the country. In my own constituency, you can see a variety of facilities being funded through various legacy funds which have been set up. We’ve got an excellent BMX facility in Cumbernauld which has come about as a result of this legacy funding. I was also pleased to go and see a skate park in Bellshill which had been campaigned for, for a long time. When I went there, the local councillor was able to refer to the fact that he was approached 25 years before by a group of local teenagers who wanted a skate park in the area. It took until this time to achieve because of the legacy funding. It was a real story of perseverance and the young people, who are no longer teenagers, were all invited along.”

The residents of the East End of Glasgow saw the greatest disruption prior to and during the Games but was it all worth it? Yes, is the answer, according to a new piece of work carried out by the University of Glasgow. 

The study looked at the impact of the Commonwealth Games on the East End of Glasgow and show that the vast majority of people living near the Games venues in the East End continue to be supportive of the fact that Glasgow hosted the Games, and that most of those who experienced inconvenience at the time of the event thought it was worth it. 

More than 1,000 local residents were interviewed during the first part of the GoWell East survey in summer 2012, with around 400 taking part in follow-up questioning at the end of 2014 so the results could be compared. A third series of interviews will be carried out next year.

A large number of people, seven out of ten respondents, were inconvenienced by the Games in one way or another, due to traffic and security arrangements and as a result of the large numbers of people in the area. Very few people, however, (7.5 per cent) were inconvenienced by anti-social behaviour, suggesting that those attending the Games were for the most part well-behaved. 

Given the pre-Games debates about the problems caused for local residents, it is interesting that afterwards, the vast majority of those affected thought that the inconveniences they experienced were worth it for the enjoyment or benefits brought by the Games.

The results also show that the regeneration activity in the area, some of which was allied to the Games, is producing positive changes that are noticed by residents, including increased feelings of safety at night and reductions in problems of vacant and derelict land.  

However, progress on other indicators of the attractiveness of the area is slow, and to bring the area up to national average standards on many indicators of environmental quality will requires sustained regeneration efforts.

The study said the direct impact of the Commonwealth Games, for example on participation in sport and physical activity, was positive but modest in size thus far, with eight per cent of the respondents in the study saying that they were doing more sport, or in a new sport as a result of being inspired by the Games.

Professor Ade Kearns, Principal Investigator on the study, said: “In general, our findings indicate that the Commonwealth Games were a positive experience for many of the people we interviewed in the East End of Glasgow. More importantly, however, the regeneration process is producing improvements, some faster and some slower than others, that offer the prospect of future gains to quality of life and health and wellbeing in the area. 

“It is important that these regeneration efforts are continued, and supported by well-resourced management and maintenance efforts, as well as by social programmes that support people to become more physically active and to interact with others where social change is occurring in the communities.”

Councillor Archie Graham, depute leader of Glasgow City Council, said hosting the Games was a “huge undertaking for the city” but he was pleased that the majority of survey respondents felt it was worth it. 

He added: “We are fully aware that social change on this scale happens over a prolonged period and with continuous effort. We will strive to keep the momentum going through partnerships with other agencies, legacy projects and council-led initiatives such as East End specific projects under the recently announced £1.13 billion City Deal for Glasgow and the Clyde Valley.”

However, the legacy of the Games is not all about new buildings and sport. Getting more Scots involved in physical exercise was also a key aspiration.

Hepburn said: “Getting more people physically active around the legacy of the Games is a big challenge but it is fundamentally important to me. We know that the most obvious way people can improve their health is by living less sedentary lifestyles. The scale of the challenge is emphasised by the fact that we know that physical inactivity causes the premature deaths of 2,500 people each year and costs the NHS £94 million every year. 

"We’ve got to do more to get people physically active and I think the Commonwealth Games can be the catalyst for this. I appreciate it won’t just do it itself, it requires a concerted effort but we can demonstrate through our range of investments that we are responding to that challenge.”

Just before the Games last year, then Cabinet Secretary for Commonwealth Games and Sport, Shona Robison, told Holyrood: “The message we’ve been giving to all our partners is ‘don’t think legacy ends when the Games end’ it goes on beyond. Many of the legacy programmes will go beyond the Games and delivering legacy will go on for years, not just in Glasgow but throughout Scotland.”

In total, 188 projects across all 32 of Scotland’s local authorities have now received awards from the £10m Active Places Fund.

Hepburn said: “The Legacy 2014 Active Places Fund has been helping to secure a lasting legacy from the 2014 Commonwealth Games across Scotland with almost 200 local projects now supported.

“The projects are great examples of where people come together to identify what their community needs. Whether it’s upgrading an existing facility, or starting a brand new venture, the Active Places Fund has been able to help these projects, big and small, to encourage physical activity in their communities. I hope that as a result of these investments many more people will be inspired to take up sport and lead more active lives.” 




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