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'Caborn stalling on Picketts Lock'


London mayor Ken Livingstone has accused sports minister Richard Caborn of deliberately stalling the £87 million Picketts Lock athletics stadium in north London because he doubts its long-term financial viability.

Addressing the Greater London Assembly at mayor's question time, Livingstone said the minister was sceptical whether the stadium, designed by FaulknerBrowns, would be sufficiently profitable as a community sports venue once the 2005 World Championships were over.

Fears are also growing among GLA members that the project could be seriously delayed by local residents fighting to protect the Green Belt site. Of wider concern is the implication for London's bid to stage the 2012 Olympics, which hinges on Picketts Lock going ahead.

Caborn is currently assessing Picketts Lock but is understood to be especially concerned about poor transport links to the stadium, even though plans are in place to link the venue to the proposed Chelsea to Hackney tube line.

Livingstone said: 'Caborn has put forward the view very strongly that Picketts Lock is an expensive way of getting young people into sport.

However, the ultimate decision rests with Caborn, not the GLA.' He added: 'One thing that can go wrong is that any member of the public can go to judicial review if they felt that the decision to build the stadium was contrary to the GLA's normal planning procedures.'

Livingstone has clearly pinned his hopes on Picketts Lock by pledging to turn round a planning application within 14 days to ensure building work begins as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, Caborn's report into the long-term viability of Picketts Lock will be made public in six weeks, followed a week later by a similar statement on the future of Wembley.

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