You know the Ranger is hardly one to complain, moan or stir it up. But this time it’s just bubbling up and has to be said. We’re delighted at the success of London in gaining the 2012 Olympics. It’s super. We’re even more pleased about the Green Games initiative. That’s fantastic – for East London, anyway. But today The Ranger was in a meeting discussing a big lottery bid for the Isle of Wight. By big, we’re talking seven figures here, and we’ve been working on it for over a year.
The good news is, our bid’s nearly ready for the next stage. The bad news is, we learn from our well-informed contacts that the unofficial word on the street is that the Lottery is pretty much gonna shut up shop until 2012 as it’s going to have to give out such a massive heap of beans to support the Olympics. Now, officially the news is that it’s business as usual, and no doubt if you ask the Lottery people they’ll tell you as much. And let’s hope they are correct. Because it doesn’t take a mathematician to see that a massive load of money is needed from the lottery to support this Olympic project, and that it’s got to come from somewhere – unless they’ve been sitting on a golden egg for years, which is most unlikely (despite the rumours to the contrary). So what will suffer as a result? Everyday lottery bids such as the ones we Rangers spend lots of time and effort producing, managing and supporting, and which pay the wages of quite a few of us. And it’s not just rangers. Small community groups and charities, culture, heritage, education, children’s facilites, health, regeneration projects… all those things which up to now the lottery has benefited, all will suffer: and the benefit will be concentrated on one main theme – sport – and one main region – London. There are laudable efforts to spread the benefit, but however you spin it that’s got to be the end result. This cannot be good overall. The Lottery has become an essential funding stream for such a lot of things which once were publicly funded. We’ve become dependent upon it and we have not had to do without this largesse before. Other sources of funding (such as grant giving parts of local councils) which once supported for community groups and organisations no longer exist. This run-up to the Olympics could be a lot tougher than we expect.