Birmingham has managed to get through three leisure, sport and culture cabinet members in the space of just five years – but there is no doubting the enthusiasm and commitment Martin Mullaney, the fourth holder of a troubled portfolio, brings with him.
However, a word of caution. Coun Mullaney has to recognise that he is no longer a community activist or pavement politician free to set hares running in the knowledge that he, personally, will not have to deliver.
Since taking office Coun Mullaney has spoken of his wish to establish an international arts centre, his personal commitment to retaining the Central Library building and, the biggest project of all, a Birmingham bid to stage the Commonwealth Games in 2022 or 2026. It is the prospective campaign to get the games that raises serious issues.
It is difficult to imagine, with the country gripped by recession and economic downturn likely to last for the foreseeable future, that there is any great enthusiasm in Birmingham for the huge effort and financial commitment that would be necessary if this city were to mount a credible Commonwealth Games bid.
Certainly, since Coun Mullaney first let slip a few weeks ago that he was considering a bid, the columns of this newspaper have hardly been full of comment and letters from people congratulating him on his foresight and offering to lend their backing to a long and arduous campaign.
We are able to reveal today that council leisure officers are already looking at some of the investment that would have to be put in place for a Birmingham bid to succeed, not least tripling in size the Alexander Stadium, albeit that 10,000 seats would be placed in temporary stands and removed afterwards.
The danger for a council that sometimes seems obsessed with grand projects – the library, the Olympic swimming pool and the doomed Super Casino to name but three – will push forward with a Commonwealth Games bid without any attempt to ascertain the level of crucial support and financial backing from the private sector.
Other cities have found, to their ultimate distress, that the long term debts attached to the glory of staging the Commonwealth Games strung around their necks for a very long time indeed.
And with Birmingham’s past record of failing to land prizes such as the Olympic Games, the National Stadium and the European Capital of Culture still sharp in the memory, it is pertinent to ask whether Coun Mullaney’s dream is a bid too far?
Either way, the council must decide whether Birmingham is serious about the games before speculation gets out of hand.