Pub­lic ser­vices would not be cut to pay for Games, in­sists leader

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Neil Elkes Po­lit­i­cal Correspondent

THE cost of host­ing the Com­mon­wealth Games will not be at the ex­pense of vi­tal pub­lic ser­vices, the city coun­cil’s new leader has con­firmed.

Labour leader Ian Ward (pic­tured) stressed that the coun­cil has sought fund­ing from ‘part­ner or­gan­i­sa­tions’ in­clud­ing busi­ness in­vest­ment groups, the West Mid­lands Com­bined Au­thor­ity, to back the Games bid.

He told a back­bench watch­dog com­mit­tee that there has been ‘in­ten­sive work’ be­hind the scenes to put a fund­ing pack­age to­gether and that de­tails are still be­ing fi­nalised ahead of a fi­nal bid meet­ing with the Com­mon- wealth Games Novem­ber 23.

“I have been clear from the out­set, we can­not be go­ing any­where near the city coun­cil’s rev­enue bud­get – there sim­ply is not any flex­i­bil­ity there,” he said.

The rev­enue bud­get funds all on­go­ing coun­cil ser­vices from bin col­lec­tion to li­braries and so­cial care. Coun­cil­lor Ward said: “We have as­sem­bled the fund­ing from across the re­gion and it has taken quite a bit of work.”

He also praised West Mid­lands Mayor Andy Street for his sup­port for the bid process and said the coun­cil needs to make the most of the mayor’s ‘di­rect Fed­er­a­tion on route into Govern­ment’ wide range of projects. The Games are es­ti­mated to cost be­tween £600 mil­lion and £750 mil­lion – with three-quar­ters of that money pledged by the Govern­ment. Birm­ing­ham is in pole po­si­tion hav­ing sub­mit­ted the only bid to host the 2022 Com­mon­wea lth Games and will find out if it has been ac­cepted by early De­cem­ber. Coun­cil­lor Ward also stressed that the Games should ben­e­fit Birm­ing­ham busi­nesses, cre­ate train­ing and ap­pren­tice­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties for the un­em­ployed and used to help the war on child­hood obe­sity. on a

He said: “It’s not just 11 days of sport at the end of July and be­gin­ning of Au­gust, it’s a real op­por­tu­nity for us to trans­form the im­age of the city both na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally. It’s an op­por­tu­nity for us to say to the world, this is the city of Birm­ing­ham, these are the peo­ple of Birm­ing­ham, the city’s great­est as­sets, and this is what we can do.”

He sug­gested link­ing many of the 12,000 vol­un­teer­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to col­leges to help un­em­ployed young­sters pick up skills and train­ing to help them into per­ma­nent work.

He also sup­ported a sug­ges­tion that con­trac­tors work­ing on in­fra­struc­ture, such as the ath­letes vil­lage, should pay the liv­ing wage, of­fer ap­pren­tice­ships to lo­cals and ban ex­ploita­tive zero hour con­tracts.

> How the Alexan­der Sta­dium would look at the Games

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