Protest against £60m aquatic centre grows in Sandwell

Protest against £60m aquatic centre grows in Sandwell

Green Party candidates are throwing their weight behind a last minute attempt to halt the building of a £60m aquatic centre for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. 

Members of the political group will join local protestors outside Sandwell Council House on Tuesday when councillors will be asked to give the project its final approval .

Sandwell Greens are joining forces with local campaigners Save Londonderry Fields to oppose the creation of the aquatic centre on the 5.42 hectare green space site.

The party is standing 18 candidates in next month’s local elections and sees the development as an important issue for voters.

Artist’s impression of proposed Commonwealth Games Aquatic Centre.

 

The Save Londonderry Fields group claims the council has based the decision to fund the project on a flawed consultation and beyond the 2022 games the centre will not be needed by residents who already have access to two popular swimming centres nearby.

Both Sandwell Green Party and Save Londonderry Fields group say losing the green space will further reduce air quality which they claim is already beyond the EU recommended levels for pollution.

There are also concerns about the loss of wildlife habitat, traffic congestion, emergency services access and security.

Keir Williams, Sandwell Green Party chairman, said: “Sandwell is unhealthily 100 per cent Labour-controlled, meaning proper scrutiny and consultation isn’t happening because nobody is holding those in charge to account.


“Londonderry Fields is a popular and well-used facility, providing an area for free exercise and play for the local community.

“Sandwell is choking on pollution, and areas such as Londonderry Fields provide much-needed green space to help improve air quality in the borough.

“The aquatic centre will rob residents of a valuable green space to be replaced with what we feel is a vanity project.”

Conservatives in the borough also oppose the scheme which they say should have been built on a brownfield site.

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But the plan has been defended by the council’s ruling Labour group which says it will replace ageing existing buildings and provide a state of the art leisure facilities in the borough.

Councillors have already given the project planning permission and the vote at full council will authorise a required change in the borough’s local development plan allowing construction to begin.

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Cllr Bill Gavan, cabinet member for leisure and Commonwealth Games, has defended the scheme saying: “Residents in the Smethwick area told us they desperately wanted new leisure facilities and we can now start moving forward with our plans.

“We are also very excited to have the opportunity to host the diving and swimming competitions in Sandwell for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games . This will be a spectacular event and we are looking forward to being part of the games.”

 

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