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Westminster Column


Following the spectacular fortnight of sport that has gripped the whole nation I would like to congratulate everyone who made it possible for London to deliver an outstandingly successful Olympic Games. There can be no doubt: we not only delivered; we shone. From the Opening Ceremony to the cheerful & positive spirit which made these the friendly games, our country has won world respect.

We showed the world the best of Britain by winning a total of 65 medals, 29 of them Gold, leaving us third overall in the medal count. We fielded the best prepared Team GB we have ever had.

On the back of this we can look ahead with confidence. We must keep the spirit of the Games alive. The Government want the success of Team GB to create a long- lasting sporting legacy that inspires young people in the UK to be the medal winners of the future. To ensure this happens we have:

  • Restored the original share of lottery funding to sport, meaning that £500 million extra will go into sport over the next five years;
  • Unveiled a 5-year, £1 billion strategy to encourage more children into sport;
  • Committed £135 million to improve sports facilities nationwide;
  • Enabled non-commercial organisations to link their events and projects to the Games.

A big part of creating a truly lasting legacy from these Olympics is to encourage more young people to take part in competitive sport. To do this we have set up the 2012 School Games competition and are promoting a big cultural change towards sport which will see parents and communities locally ensure competitive sport can thrive rather than being driven by top down Whitehall policies.

We must use this extraordinary year to boost our tourism industry, to create jobs and prosperity following the success of the Olympics. We have announced a new focus on domestic tourism and we expect the Games to bring over £13 billion of economic benefit for the UK economy over the next four years.

In the West Midlands, the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce believe there will be a successful business legacy from the Games and it has been widely reported that the city as a whole has received a substantial boost from the Games netting £15 million.
The fastest man in the world – Usain Bolt – and the whole Jamaican Team did their bit in their lavish praise for the hospitality and merits of Birmingham.

In my last column I mentioned that Sutton Coldfield had a representative in the Games. Laura Unsworth was chosen to represent Great Britain on the Women’s Hockey Team and I am sure that all of us in Sutton were proud to see the team take a Bronze medal. I also want to acknowledge the contribution of staff from the West Midlands Ambulance Service who helped train medical staff for Great Britain’s athletics team to ensure that athletes were in the best condition going into the Games.
I think we all recognise that without the spirit of the volunteers, organisers and of course members of the Armed Forces and Police this great success would not have been possible.

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Whilst the Olympic Games have been underway the Government has been busy cutting £5.5 billion in Whitehall waste. This has been an issue on which I have received extensive correspondence and I am confident that my constituents will welcome the savings, which have been independently audited, and are equivalent to around £500 for every working household in Britain.

The Government has focused on cutting wasteful spending on things like consultants and marketing while protecting the frontline services that families in Sutton Coldfield value. Labour left a bloated and inefficient Whitehall which saw a department spend £73 on a box of paper and gave Civil Servants unregulated access to taxpayer-funded credit cards.

As we cut the deficit, we are rightly cutting the cost of Government and ensuring Whitehall operates more like the best-run businesses. During tough times it is essential that we cut out wasteful spending and make sure taxpayers’ hard earned money is being spent wisely.

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On Friday 7 September, I will be Chairing a Public Meeting on the future of Sutton Coldfield Town Centre. This will be held at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall from 10.00-12.00.

The meeting will bring together the businesses, elected representatives and members of the public who want to influence the future of the Town Centre. It will be an opportunity for everyone who has a stake in the Town Centre to put forward their ideas and ask questions of a panel which will include the Head of the Shopping Centre, Local Councillors, The Mall General Manager, Birmingham’s Chief Planning Officer and the Chairman of Sutton Coldfield’s Business Improvement District.

Everyone is welcome – please do come along and contribute to the future of our town.



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