I want to begin by saying that I welcome the measures in the Bill. It has always been important that everyone gets behind these games and makes sure they are a huge success, but, as we have heard, given the economic circumstances we know face, that has taken on added significance.
I particularly welcome the investment that will result in new homes and necessary transport infrastructure, as well as huge improvements in walking and cycling routes. I greatly welcome the A34 cycleway, which will extend through Perry Barr and beyond to revitalise communities and connect new housing with the Alexander stadium and on to Walsall, opening up the west midlands, just as the canals did centuries before.
Birmingham City Council and its leader, Ian Ward, deserve our congratulations on the lead they have taken generally over these games and on the £72 million upgrade plans for Alexander stadium. During the games, the stadium will be viewed by an estimated 1.5 billion TV audience. Following the games, it will retain an 18,000 permanent seated capacity, making it the largest facility of its kind in the UK. It will also provide a teaching base for Birmingham City University’s sports and exercise students. The university is already pushing new boundaries in its work in the areas of sports psychology, medicine and training—all work that has much wider potential benefits for the rest of the community.
As we have heard, it is not just Birmingham, because these are west midlands games. I want to acknowledge councils and organisations across the region, especially Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, which will be hosting the swimming and diving events. Its new £73 million state-of-the-art venue will be a jewel in the crown of the west midlands long after the games are over.
We have heard today that there are concerns about funding and issues about the economics of the games, but the Birmingham business charter for social responsibility is an example of what we might achieve. It can mean jobs for local people—new jobs and apprenticeships, work experience opportunities, programmes to target disadvantaged residents, opportunities for local suppliers and businesses, school engagement, a community fund, and a commitment to create a carbon-neutral construction environment. These are all things we need if we are to make it a success.
This is our chance for the city of a thousand trades—a city where 46% of the population are under 30; a city which, at the last count, is host to 187 nationalities from the Commonwealth and around the world. This is our chance to make Kare Adenegan, Elise Glynn and Galal Yafai household names. This is our chance to make the games and their legacy an achievement that people will talk about and remember fondly for many years to come.