Birmingham is gearing up for its final political shindig for some time as 14,000 delegates from across the country are set to flock in for the Conservative Party Conference.
Preparations for the event at the International Convention Centre from September 28 to October 1 are being finalised, with experts predicting a £17 million boost to the city’s economy.
It will be no mean feat – the 200 catering staff will get through 1,600 litres of milk and 2,000kg of meat and fish, creating 5,000 canapés per day.
However, it is likely to be something of a swansong, as Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore has said he wants major events funding to be focused elsewhere.
Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps said with the General Election less than a year away, it was going to be the biggest conference yet for the party.
He said: “Birmingham is one of our country’s economic success stories. It is one of the most enterprising cities in Europe, home to some of Britain’s best brands and companies, like Jaguar Land Rover and Deutsche Bank.
“I’m proud that we’ve held our conference here so often, helping to support Birmingham’s businesses and boosting jobs in local shops and hotels.
“This one is going to be our biggest yet in this parliament, so we are looking forward to welcoming thousands of Conservative members and activists here later this month.”
This is the fourth time the ICC has played host to the event, and the 11th political party conference the city has welcomed since 2008.
Inward investment agency Marketing Birmingham says there will be a £17 million boost from additional spending on things like hotel stays and restaurants.
A total of 950 coffees per day will be served by Starbucks in the ICC Mall, as an example.
Ian Taylor, commercial director of Marketing Birmingham, said: “Being based in Centenary Square, delegates will be in a prime position to sample what the city has to offer with Brindleyplace, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and The Library of Birmingham all within easy reach.”
Sir Albert’s decision to focus event spending on inward investment rather than political events has drawn criticism from some circles.
Birmingham will be at the centre of political attention, across the four days, with many journalists and media expected to attend the event, which will see MPs, local councillors and party members gather to debate policies that will shape the Conservative Party’s vision for the future of the country.
Sir Albert wants to focus events on economic growth sectors that could boost the city longer term, like financial services, digital media and ICT.