BID chairman recommends steps to hold on to Commonwealth Games legacy
Southside BID chairman and night-club owner, Lawrence Barton, has set out a series of recommendations for supporting the city
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Southside BID chairman and night-club owner, Lawrence Barton, has setout a series of recommendations for supporting the city. The business leader, who runs four top venues in Birmingham including The Nightingale Club, is concerned residents might not enjoy the long-term advantages after holding the top-tier sporting event this summer.
Mr Barton, who is also the director for the city’s Pride Festival, believes there should be more support for the hospitality sector and volunteer sports organisations, and for building a legacy which everyone can take pride in. He is also in support of keeping the Brummie Bull in the city centre.
He said the Commonwealth Games “ought to be the catalyst for a new era of enterprise and physical activity locally but without more than token action, we risk the Games leaving a sourtaste in the mouths of many Brummies.”
“Which is why the generous funding put towards encouraging physical activity in the areamust be targeted and must work. Why the outstanding efforts by local businesses andresidents to make visitors feel welcomed must be recognised and supported to continue.
“And why we must keep putting forward the message that Birmingham is a world-leadingcentre for business and tourism, using the Games as our shining example, to generaterevenue for our pubs and clubs and trading opportunities for our businesses,” he added.
His recommendations include:
1. Keep Birmingham’s centre thriving
Barton argues pubs and nightclubs put on an effort worthy of a gold medal during theGames and ought to be supported to continue providing that excellent service by the council, the combined authority, and police.
“If we are to maximise the benefits from Birmingham’s visitor economy, which was worth £7.9 billion before the pandemic, local authorities ought to step up support for venues including more frequent patrols in their vicinity and fully prosecuting those who try to spoilother peoples’ nights out,” he says.
“City council and combined authority leaders should push Liz Truss and the new business secretary to launch a nationwide ‘Eat Out to Help Out’-style campaign to encourage people to enjoy their local nightlife,” he added.
2. Funds for encouraging young people to take up sports
Birmingham City Council has announced a ‘Celebrating Communities’ scheme worth £2 million, as part of a larger £6 million package to maximise the benefit and legacy ofhosting the Games.
Money from ‘Celebrating Communities’ can be put towards encouraging people to take up sports and recreation, he said, adding, Sport England is also putting in £35 million into the Games, including £600,000 to help inactive people find ways to be active.
He said: “These impressive sums must have a laser-like focus on increasing take-up of sports and recreation activities. The funding should be directed at established sports clubs who understand their community and know how best to deliver in away which attracts inactive young people and adults – but also retains them.”
Sports clubs and teams are as much a part of the community as pubs and clubs, says Barton, and ought to receive as much support.
3. Keep and develop new permanent monuments connected to the Games
The ‘Raging Bull’ which played such an eye-catching role in the Games’ opening ceremony ought to become a permanent fixture of the city centre, says Barton. “Currently, it has been given a stay of execution until this month but keeping it in the city permanently will be a great draw for visitors and will also give residents a sense of pride for their city’s role in hosting one of the world’s top sporting events,” he added.
He is also opposed to a decision to remove all references to the Games from plans to convert the failed athletes’ villages into housing. “Despite the problems with the aborted village, the achievement of hosting the Games ought to be recognised as widely as possible. It shouldn’t be a source of any shame for Birmingham,” he argues.
4. Businesses and politicians must work like the eyes of the world are still upon us
He believes fellow business leaders and Birmingham’s political representatives should continue promoting the city internationally, as a top destination for leisure and business, using the Games as leverage. This, he says, will enhance the city’s profile as a leading centre of commerce and tourism.
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