Organisers of Birmingham’s 2022 Commonwealth Games have been attacked for excluding the MP serving the community where they will take place.

Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Perry Barr, says he is being sidelined because he raised “awkward questions” about the impact of the game on housing and transport.

Construction work on the largest infrastructure project directly related to the games started on Wednesday when a ground-breaking ceremony was staged at the Commonwealth Games Village site in Perry Barr.

But Mr Mahmood was not invited. And he said this was typical of the way he had been treated since the games were announced.

He said: “I know they might be uncomfortable with the questions I ask. But my job is to represent my constituents and ensure they get a good deal out of this.”

Mr Mahmood is particularly critical of what he says is Labour-run Birmingham City Council’s failure to involve him.

Many of his concerns relate to the city council’s masterplan for the former Birmingham City University campus in Perry Barr, which is to become an athlete’s village housing up to 6,500 athletes and officials.

The city council says it has offered “many opportunities and platforms” for Mr Mahmood and other local MPs to become involved in the games.

 

Mr Mahmood says organisers have refused to listen to his concerns about plans to remove the Perry Barr flyover. Critics say this will lead to congestion on local roads.

He has also criticised proposals for new Sprint buses on the A34 at a cost of £110 million. Opponents say this will lead to the removal of parking bays and places existing bus services under threat, although the West Midlands Combined Authority recently announced that many parking bays will stay.

Other concerns include the accommodation provided in the athlete’s village, which will be turned into 1,400 homes for the people of Birmingham once the games are over.

Mr Mahmood says there will be too many small apartments and too few family homes, and he is worried that a lack of parking facilities in the village will lead to long-term problems.

Khalid Mahmood MP.
Khalid Mahmood MP.

The MP said: “They didn’t invite me. They didn’t invite my senior adviser, who has been working on co-ordinating with the residents, local businesses, the council and the organising committee.

“It’s extremely poor by the council and the delivery committee not to invite the Member of Parliament.”

He added: “I want there to be a positive legacy from the Commonwealth Games. I support the Commonwealth Games, and I think it’s important that we use them to show Birmingham at its best.

“But if they’re failing to talk to residents, and failing to invite the Member of Parliament, this is something they need to look at very closely.”

Many of his concerns were about the long-term impact of the developments on the community once the Commonwealth Games are over, he said.

“The traffic around the athlete’s village will cause a huge amount of disruption, not just during the games but also afterwards.

“Removing the flyover will cause a backlog of traffic all the time.

“They are doing this without taking into account the views of businesses or residents, or my views.”

A CGI image of how Plot 10 of the Commonwealth Games 2022 athletes village would look.
A CGI image of how Plot 10 of the Commonwealth Games 2022 athletes village would look.

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: “The ground-breaking ceremony at the Commonwealth Games Village site was simply a media photocall and the invite to attend was extended to the Games Partners – the group of organisations that have come together to deliver the 2022 Games.

“As part of that ground-breaking, the council has also today announced it is developing a programme of community engagement for the people of Perry Barr and Mr Mahmood will be integral to that.

“This will supplement the many opportunities and platforms, including meetings specifically for local MPs, that he has been offered since last year to raise issues on behalf of constituents along with a number of resident meetings.”

Wednesday’s ceremony saw representatives of Birmingham City Council, Commonwealth Games England and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport come together at the Commonwealth Games Village site in Perry Barr.

Birmingham City Council said that the village will include an on-site training and engagement facility and a related £1.28 million package of training.

The Athletes Village site in Perry Barr.
The Athletes Village site in Perry Barr.

In order to engage with the Perry Barr community, the council has announced the launch of a programme of site visits for local schools and community organisations. More details will be announced in the months ahead.

Investment in housing, transport infrastructure and community facilities in Perry Barr will be far in excess of £500 million, including the redevelopment of Alexander Stadium and the Commonwealth Games Athletes’ Village.

 

The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will take place from 27 July to 7 August 2022.

While the council is heavily involved in developing Perry Barr, the Games themselves are overseen by the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee board. Most members were appointed by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt while the Board’s chair, leading local businessman John Crabtree, was appointed by the Prime Minister.

A spokesperson for the Games said John Crabtree and Ian Reid, Chief Executive Officer for Birmingham 2022, both met with Khalid Mahmood in March.

Officials also got in contact with his team last week about arranging a follow up meeting.