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Signoff: David Taylor

YOU MIGHT have noticed last week that several well-informed construction experts have warned that London's 'iconic' stadium, which will form the centrepiece of the 2012 Olympic Games, will exceed its £250 million budget.

This news troubled me for several days. And I was particularly bothered because I couldn't work out what it was that I found unsettling. It wasn't the prospect that the stadium might not be ready in time ? after all, Athens managed it against all the odds last year.

And in fact it wasn't even the thought that the project might bust its budget.

At last, the penny dropped: what's wrong with this prediction is the idea that anybody should pay it any attention. This is a major construction project due for completion in seven years' time.

If it's anywhere near its original budget by the time it's finished, I'll eat my hat.

AN ACQUAINTANCE of mine ? let's call him Gilbert O'Malley ? has had a rough time of it at work recently. Godfrey (not his real name) works at the 'coal face' of a major hospital PFI project for a Yorkshire healthcare trust and has some fairly trenchant views about the way it's been run.

Of course, being a Yorkshireman, Mr Molloy (names have been changed to protect sources) speaks his mind, so when he was called in before a committee set up by the local authority to look into apparent project shor tfalls, he gave it to them st raight.

'If it weren't for those poncey nesh PFI jessies from down south, we'd 'ave 'ad this mental 'ealth 'ospital oop an' running bah now, ' said Mr Murphy (an alias).

This apparently innocent ? albeit brusque ? assessment landed 'Gordon' well and truly in it. He was immediately suspended by his employer under the terms of the Mental Health Act on the basis that the mental hospital was 'oop an' running' so he was clearly mad as a fish.

Thus he found himself tucked up in a hospital bed on his own project before you could say 'knife'. That in itself is remarkable, as no one gets a hospital bed that quickly these days unless they go private.

You can imagine how unsettling this must have been for my f r iend.

I've advised him to make the best of it and chill out until the public enquiry had vindicated him and secured his discharge. Meanwhile I've lent him my copy of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest to help h im pass the t ime.

THAT little anecdote conveniently brings me full circle back to the 2012 Olympics. It has emerged that the Private Finance Initiative is being put forward as the most suitable procurement method for some of the elements of the Olympic development project.

I'm the first to admit that I could never run a construction project ? it's as much as I can do to run a bath ? but I can't see how the PFI is a suitable route for the Olympic Village.

I mean, once the Games are over, what then? You've got another 20 or more years' concession per iod with no chance of another London Olympics within that time. What do you do with it? Just think what would have happened if the Millennium Dome had been built under the Private Finance Initiative.

Amazing, isn't it ? the Millennium Dome? One of the biggest public buildings of the past decade, hailed at the time as a masterpiece of architecture and engineering but utterly and entirely useless for anything.

Tod ay, the Millenn ium Dome is nothing more than a splodge on the opening credits of EastEnders.