Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore has promised to take direct strategic control of arts and sport in the city and is launching a summit to see how Birmingham can attract major events and investment.
The new Labour council leader has pledged to give culture and sport a central role following criticism from rivals that his administration was not taking the sector seriously after scrapping the job of cabinet member for leisure, sport and culture.
Instead, Sir Albert hit back at the outgoing Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition claiming they had, after securing the American and Jamaican Olympic training camps for this summer, taken their eye off the ball and it was his aim to boost Birmingham’s profile.
He said: “Over the last few years the steam has run out of the city council’s commitment to arts, culture and sports. We are not making the best of the many opportunities inherited from the past.
“For example we have not one major international sporting event planned for the city in the years beyond 2012. We need to start working now to attract visitors and create jobs.
“We know there has been growing frustration amongst those who value arts and sports across the city. Our summit will give them an opportunity to advise the city council.”
Under Labour’s major overhaul of council services the ten district committees will be responsible for local leisure centres, swimming pools, libraries, parks and community halls within their areas.
While strategic facilities and events, such as those hosted at the NIA or Alexander Stadium and the major arts and cultural events will be controlled by Sir Albert and his deputy leader Ian Ward.
Grants to third sector organisations, such as those supporting the St Patrick's Day Parade and Vaisakhi, will be monitored by the cabinet member for commissioning Stewart Stacey.
But former Liberal Democrat cabinet member for leisure, sport and culture Martin Mullaney described the Labour claims as ‘complete rubbish’.
He said: “What the previous administration did was get a number of national and international sports events to become regular annual fixtures in Birmingham sporting calender.
"The UK heat of the annual international Diamond League athletics event is now held every year bringing the world's finest field and track stars to Birmingham - this event is broadcast around the world.
"Birmingham now hosts every year the UK Athletics Aviva Trials and the BUPA Great Birmingham Run, both of which are screened on national TV.”
He added that his council had invested in new facilities to Alexander Stadium, Warwickshire County Cricket Club, a new Harborne Swimming Pool, Holford Drive in Perry Barr and Belchers Lane in Small Heath.
He added that he expected Labour to continue the talks to bring the European Athletics Championships to Alexander Stadium in 2018.