HOSTING the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow cost the taxpayer £37.2 million less than budgeted, with the leadership and delivery of the biggest ever multi-sport event held in Scotland praised as “strong”, by spending watchdogs.
A surge in ticket sales eased pressure on the public purse and cut down on the expense of holding the games last year, Scotland’s Auditor General and Accounts Commission stated in a report today.
Glasgow came together wonderfully.Lord Smith of Kelvin
The findings will be seen as a vote of confidence in the stewardship of the event by Lord Smith of Kelvin – chair of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games organising committee.
Lord Smith, a leading businessman, said Scots would “love and remember” the games for decades to come, as he welcomed the report into what the authors said was a successful and under budget event.
The total cost of holding the games was £543m, around £32m less than the agreed budget of £575m in November 2013, with the organisers praised for their efficient planning and “successful partnership working” to keep expense to a minimum.
Taxpayer funding for the games totalled £424.5m, £37.2m less than expected, with the savings now due to go back into Scotland’s public sector.
Ticket sales from the 12-day competition raised £118m, with around 1.2 million individual paid bookings for individual sporting events, which led to healthy finances for the games, the report said.
The “strong controls and good planning” of the games organisers, which included Lord Smith’s committee, Glasgow council and the Scottish government, helped deliver the savings, the report stated in another key finding.
There are also “clear legacy plans” in place, the report said, which have included a 20-year project to attract businesses, homes and jobs to Glasgow’s East End, following a pledge from organisers that the games would be a springboard for a continued transformation of rundown parts of the city.
The watchdogs called on the Scottish government and Glasgow council to ensure “long-term benefits are achieved” from the games, in a key recommendation.
Auditor General Caroline Gardner said: “They need to continue to evaluate the impact to ensure the Games achieve their longer-term aims such as a healthier population and better life chances for people living in the East End of Glasgow.”
Accounts Commission chair Douglas Sinclair, setting out the findings, said: “The Games have been widely seen as a success, and our report adds to this positive picture.”
Lord Smith of Kelvin, who has now been tasked with delivering the 2014 Commonwealth Games legacy, welcomed the report’s findings and said that Scotland should “take confidence from this”.
He said: “Our first task was to put together a Games that everyone would love and remember.
“Glasgow came together wonderfully to make sure that we achieved that. The report shows that the success of the Games across all of these measures was down to an outstanding effort from a huge team.”
Archie Graham, Glasgow council’s executive member for the Commonwealth Games, said the report “recognises and ratifies our approach to delivering the Games”.
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS