SNP ups bid for 'natural justice' over lotto cash

SCOTTISH ministers will this week call on the UK Government to hand over £150m of lottery cash to create a legacy from Glasgow's Commonwealth Games, insisting it is a matter of "natural justice".

On the first anniversary of the decision in Sri Lanka last year to award the Games to Glasgow, SNP ministers are to call for UK ministers to "return" the money to Scotland, arguing that an equivalent sum has been sucked away from Scotland to pay for the huge cost of the 2012 London Olympics.

They will issue a bid document to UK Lottery Minister Andy Burnham this week, which says that the funds could be used to pay for dozens of new sports facilities, more sports clubs and new health programmes.

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Funding for Glasgow's 300m 2014 Commonwealth Games has already been guaranteed by Scottish ministers and the city council, but politicians and sports chiefs across the country are now pressing for a lottery boost to ensure the Games do not become another sporting white elephant.

They say an injection of lottery cash in grass roots and elite sport would help ensure the 2014 Games acts as a catalyst for a revolution in sporting achievement and participation in Scotland.

The campaign for extra funds, led by Scotland on Sunday, has already won the support of the Scottish Parliament and all political parties at Holyrood. Glasgow's Commonwealth Games organisers are also backing the bid for a lottery legacy.

Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy declared last month that he backed a "lasting legacy" for the Commonwealth Games and has begun talks with Burnham.

First Minister Alex Salmond said last night: "It is quite wrong that 150m of lottery funds is being taken away from Scottish good causes to help finance the London Olympics in 2012. There is consensus among Scotland's private, public and voluntary organisations and political parties that an equivalent sum is returned to Scotland to help deliver a real, lasting legacy for the whole of Scotland."

The formal request for 150m will be made this week by SNP Sports Minister Stewart Maxwell who has now written to Burnham.

He said: "We are pressing for the return of the money as a matter of natural justice because we believe it is fundamentally unfair that Scottish good causes should suffer to pay for London 2012.

"From the smallest arts groups, through sports clubs to health promotion centres and local day care facilities, we want to see communities embracing opportunities to make change for themselves and help to improve the quality of their lives and those of others."

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Scottish lottery bodies have seen their direct funds cut because of the huge sums of lottery cash being injected into the 2012 Olympics. The Big Lottery fund, the country's largest lottery distributor, has seen its own budget cut by 73m. Sportscotland has lost 18m.

The bid document supplied by Maxwell lists a series of projects which would be funded if the funds were released. They include new physical activity programmes for nursery children, new sports clubs at schools, the building of more sports facilities across Scotland, and an improved coaching structure to boost performances.

The SNP say they support the London Olympics but add that the lottery funding being used to pay for it will "inevitably constrain" projects in Scotland.

The bid document concludes: "In order to deliver Scotland's legacy ambitions for the 2014 Games, these funds must be returned. Scotland does not seek lottery money to fund the delivery of the Games – these costs are rightly being met by the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council. Rather, we seek the return of diverted lottery funds to allow us to capitalise on the inspiration, ambition and levels of engagement generated across Scotland by our winning bid.

"This issue has aroused passion and determination in Scotland. The message from all sides came across loud and clear: the people of Scotland want the Games to leave a legacy of which we can all be rightly proud".

A spokesman for the UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport said they had yet to receive the bid document from the SNP Government, but pointed out the significant lottery cash that had already been spent in Scotland. He said: "Glasgow's Candidate City File for the 2014 Games set out the various revenue streams that were expected and this did not include any funding from the lottery.

"Scotland has received over 2bn in lottery money since 1994, and around 150m in the last financial year alone. Since the lottery began, over 315m has been spent on grassroots sport in Scotland."

He added: "The Olympic Games will bring immense benefits to the UK: a legacy of world-class facilities; the inspiration of a generation to get active and take up sport; as well as huge economic and business benefits with 6bn worth of contracts.

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"London 2012 will leave a lasting legacy for everyone in the UK, including Scotland, which will host Olympic football at Hampden Park. In addition, 29 locations across Scotland are included in the official guide to pre-Games training facilities for foreign teams in 2012."

Stephen Purcell, leader of Glasgow City Council, said: "We want to work with the Scottish Government to ensure that there is a genuine legacy for this great event."