A bold green Birmingham on the international sporting stage

Cllr Majid Mahmood, Cabinet Member for Environment, writes about the role the city’s parks are playing during the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games...

With hundreds of thousands of people coming to our wonderful city to enjoy the spectacle that is the Commonwealth Games, we know a significant percentage will be experiencing what we have to offer for the very first time.

It could well be that dusty copies of tourist guides or memories of history and geography lessons in the past mean that many will think of Birmingham as manufacturing city from where the industrial revolution flourished.

But for those of us inside the city, we know it is much, much more than that – and as Cabinet Member for Environment, I am full of pride over the showcase that Birmingham 2022 is offering for our fantastic parks and open spaces.

We have in excess of 600 such sites and an ambition to boost that number to 1,000 in the coming decades – we want to be known not only as the city of a thousand trades, we want to become the city of 1,000 green spaces.

The current list contains spaces of all shapes, sizes and varieties, but combined they are of massive value to us. They have ecological value most obviously but also provide a network of places for people and visitors to relax, keep fit and meet friends and relatives.

In the coming days we have a shop window to the world, to promote how green our city is, and help break some of the stereotypes that visitors and television viewers may have.

Leading up to the Games, our parks have hosted the Queen’s Baton Relay and it was inspiring to see so many people come out at the various locations to cheer on Batonbearers as it made its way to the spectacular opening ceremony.

Starting today, Sutton Park, officially designated as a National Nature Reserve, Scheduled Ancient Monument and Site of Special Scientific Interest, will act as the stage for the sporting theatre that is the Triathlon and Para Triathlon events.

If you are unfamiliar with the city, it really is amazing to think that just six miles from the city centre we have a park of 2,400 acres and such strategic importance.

And the Games are creating a positive legacy. The creation of the athlete transition area will leave behind electrical infrastructure that will enable other major events to be staged more sustainably at the site in future without the need to bring in generators and other such technology on an ad hoc basis.

Tomorrow, some of the best marathon runners in the world will pass through Cannon Hill Park on the outskirts of the city centre. Situated opposite the world-famous Edgbaston Cricket Ground, I am sure many spectators will use the park as their vantage point to cheer on the competitors.

And as the Games unfold, a number of our parks will be the venue for Neighbourhood Festival Sites, ensuring that even if you don’t live near a competition venue, you won’t be too far away from the Games action.

I want to place on record my appreciation and thanks to all of the city council’s parks staff, whose effort and dedication ensures our open spaces look as good as possible all year round.

We need visitors to play their part and respect our parks by not littering and following any local rules – but as long as everyone does this, they will continue to be places for all to enjoy.

Whether you have lived in the city since birth or are just here for the Games, get along to one of our parks and see for yourself what a bold, green, city we are.

This blog was posted on 29 July 2022

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