Brexit & EconomyPoliticsOn the money with Gavin Hinks

On the money with Gavin Hinks

I winced when I read last week that David Ross, chartered accountant and co-founder of Carphone Warehouse, has been chosen to be the eyes and ears of London mayor Boris Johnson on Locog, the Olympics organising committee

The reason? Once again a politician has decided a businessman is needed to
make a public sector project work.

I find that assumption puzzling. Business is about value, but also profit.
The ‘p’ word doesn’t enter into the equation of the Olympics. So why a
businessman?

There’s no doubt that projects such as the Olympics need financial control ­
but the business side?
It’s not entirely a parallel, but when Gordon Brown appointed David Varney, a
former BT executive, to sort out HMRC, few considered it an overriding success.

And how do you measure success? In business it’s pretty clear cut, but to
estimate a storming games? While some business metrics might be useful, others
won’t apply at all.

Then there’s the values a businessmen brings to the party. Risk taking and
speedy decision making. You could argue that the public sector may dawdle with
decisions, but it is spending public money. And in this case vast sums of it.

As a London council tax payer I’m not sure I want a particularly risky
approach to the Olympics. Frankly, rather than say his man was in place to
ensure a ‘lasting legacy’, I wish Boris had said he’s there to exercise the same
kind of grip over the budget as Steve Redgrave does over his oars.

Then there’s Ross’s background ­ mobile phones. Wouldn’t it be better to have
someone who knew something about staging big events?

I can only assume Boris thinks the London public will be reassured by this
appointment. I should be backing the accountant but can’t help feeling my
judgement needs to be firmly reserved.

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