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