“Embarassing” claims as pandemic blamed for soaring budget.
Conservatives on Birmingham city council have reacted angrily to the news that plans for the Athletes Village due to be built for the Commonwealth Games 2022 has been scrapped.
The Village, to be built in Perry Barr near to the stadium, has been beset with problems from the outset, including the purchase of a bus depot reportedly coming in at eight times the original budget with a revised business case earlier this year showed a £92 million overspend over the original £496 million budget. The decision to scrap plans for the Village, which was scheduled to host 6,500 athletes, has been blamed on construction delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cllr Robert Alden (Con, Erdington) Leader of the Conservative Group on Birmingham City Council said: “The Athletes Village was the one part of the Games for which the Labour Council was solely responsible and it is little surprise it is the one part of the games which has gone badly wrong. These problems were building before Covid and even without the pandemic it seemed destined to be yet another major project managed by Labour that failed to run on time and to budget.
“Whilst we are hugely grateful to the government and the Commonwealth Fames federation for the huge amounts time, energy and resources they are pouring into making the Birmingham Games a success, it is embarrassing that the largest local authority in Europe cannot be trusted to deliver their own commitments for the Games and others are now having to step in.”
However, Ian Reid, CEO of Birmingham 2022, defended the council’s decision, calling it,calling it, “The sensible and pragmatic thing to do for the Games, the athletes and for the people of Birmingham.” He added, “These are challenging times for all of us,” said Ian Reid, the CEO of Birmingham 2022. We recognise that this new model is a move away from the historic norm and we are grateful for the support shown by our partners across the Commonwealth Games Associations.”
Dame Louise Martin, president of the Commonwealth Games Foundation, commented: “We remain confident Birmingham 2022 will be delivered on time and on budget – offering a world-class Games experience for athletes, fans and all the businesses and communities that look to benefit from this extraordinary event.”