To update Members on the Alexander Stadium project as part of the Local Growth Fund programme.
The purpose of the report was to update Members on the Alexander Stadium project as part of the Local Growth Fund programme.
An application for Local Growth funding was submitted by Birmingham City Council in 2019 for £20M of support via the GBSLEP Local Growth Fund towards delivery of the Alexander Stadium, with the total project cost at that time amounting to £72M. Whilst the funding was primarily directed towards construction costs, a number of other significant outcomes were realised, including continued use of the Alexander Stadium post-games. A study undertaken in 2017 showed that could represent a significant impact across the West Midlands. Works commenced on the Stadium in May 2020. The current programme has scheduled project completion for February 2022, with good progress being made.
The Stadium is being monitored in respect of the social benefits it is achieving, which includes local employment, good employer targets, partnerships in the community and delivery of sustainability aspirations to be delivered through the project in terms of C02 reduction. Programmes were in place to support local procurement and procurement opportunities for local businesses, all of which is monitored and reported. GBSLEP were also supporting other projects which were supporting the Commonwealth Games via the Local Growth Fund, such as the Perry Bar Phase 2 (train station) project and via the Enterprise Zone the clearance of the Birmingham Smithfield site for use via the Commonwealth Games.
Having received the presentation, Members of the Joint Scrutiny Committee raised a number of related questions, which in summary included the following matters:
Councillor Peaple questioned some of the employment opportunity targets, citing the level of expectation and in some cases there being no targets set at all, specifically pertaining to young people. Councillor Peaple stated that in future set targets should be more rigorous in relation to the funding set aside. In respect of Buy Local, it was welcomed that SME’s had been recognised and that contract spend with SME’s was at 73% against a target of 85%, but questioned how the target setting had been established at the start of the project and whether the targets for the latest project proposals had been given greater consideration than before.
Members were advised that the setting of future targets by the project sponsor (Birmingham City Council) would in future be given rigour in their setting and that the current targets had been established against defined criteria. Some of the targets were dependent on at what stage of the contract had been reached and the length of the remaining contract period. Scrutiny of proposed targets was undertaken at the Business Case assessment stage before funding was allocated, but the level of rigour applied to future target setting would be taken into account in future.
Councillor Kriss questioned the targets set against Partners in Communities, specifically for volunteering hours and public engagement, whether the LEP had attained a position it expected to be in for delivery against these targets. Members were advised by the Consultant Project Manager that owing to the Covid pandemic, it had been a turbulent year for delivering public engagement exercises, such as that for the Alexander Stadium. However, every effort was being made to continue to facilitate public engagement, including through the summer period in order to meet and exceed the established targets wherever possible.
Councillor Griffiths noted that the Volunteer Programme had attracted 15,000 applicants to date and that a significant number of the volunteering roles were reserved for young people. The intention was for the volunteering roles to lead to recognised qualifications for those young people volunteering which would support them into future employment. The Interim Chief Executive (GBSLEP) also noted that the Commonwealth Games presented a suite of opportunities across the social demographic and physical infrastructure across the West Midlands region. Furthermore, one of the benefits arising from the GBSLEP funding contribution towards the hosting of the Commonwealth Games was that it would hopefully contribute to the revitalisation of the culture and hospitality sector through those visitors arriving in 2022 for the Games.
The Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP Joint Scrutiny Committee:
i. To note the progress made on the Alexander Stadium project.