This is my first column of 2012 so I wanted to start by wishing all my constituents and readers of the Sutton Coldfield Observer a very happy New Year.
Secondly, I want to talk briefly about refuse collections in our area and specifically, the unacceptable waste collection we saw over Christmas and New Year. Many local residents have written to me complaining about this.
As ever, I am in regular contact with Sutton Coldfield’s Councillors and I know therefore that they have been out and about actively seeking to resolve this appalling situation and have taken Birmingham City Council and its Fleet & Waste management strongly to task for this failure.
Our Councillors have since received assurances from the Council that the position will be resolved and steps taken to ensure it does not happen again.
It is clear that there are several factors which contributed to this abysmal situation. Firstly, that although casual and agency staff gave commitments to specific working hours before Christmas they withdrew these the week before. Secondly, there was a higher than average sickness/lack of co-operation amongst crew.
At the insistence of our local Councillors, a total review of refuse collection in Sutton Coldfield will now be carried out.
On an entirely different point, the Cabinet visited the Olympic Stadium in Stratford last week. There are now just 189 days to go until the greatest sporting event in the world returns to our country for the first time in over 60 years. It is unlikely for at least another generation and I thought that I would provide readers with an update on where we’ve got to.
Construction of the Olympic Stadium and its sister venues is 95 per cent complete, on time and within budget – proving that our construction industry is amongst the best in the world. We have a strong legacy programme taking place, both in terms of the physical infrastructure, where we have already found future uses for 6 of the 8 park venues as well as a fantastic sporting legacy with nearly half of the schools in the country taking part in the new Olympic School Games.
I firmly believe that the Games present us with a fantastic opportunity to inspire a generation of children with what sport can do. But I do realise that many people are concerned about the wider benefits to the country in these austere times. It is worth remembering that over 300 firms have already either completed or have contracts to supply the Games, bringing in over £500 million to the West Midlands region alone. Many of these businesses are already competing for contracts in Brazil where the next Olympics will be held!
The Games also present an unparalleled opportunity for our tourism industry and we have launched a GREAT Britain campaign that will help to generate over £2 billion in additional tourism revenue and 50,000 jobs.
But 2012, with the addition of the Diamond Jubilee, will be a year where the eyes of the world will be on us and whether it be lining the torch route that passes through the West Midlands at the end of June, seeing an event or joining in the hundreds of Olympic activities that will be taking part in our area, let us celebrate the best of Britain!