A STADIUM that can hold a larger capacity crowd than some Premier League sides has been left to rot as locals say it was a huge waste of money.
Residents living in the shadow of Birmingham’s Commonwealth Games stadium say the area has been left “to rot and go to waste” amid the council’s bankruptcy woes.
Locals in Perry Barr, in the north of the city, claim the costly bid to host last summer’s games has had little benefit to their community despite a staggering £184m investment.
Alexander Stadium was revamped ahead of the multi-million pound sporting event – but the surrounding area has since been left in disrepair and “like a building site”.
The stadium could hold a capacity crowd of 18,000, making it larger than Luton Town’s ground which can hold 11,500 while Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium can accommodate 11,379.
Apart from seeing “no legacy whatsoever” following the games people say the area is now a complete mess with much of it still fenced off with graffiti-clad boards.
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Parts of Perry Park have remained inaccessible since last summer with a Birmingham 2022 tarmac car park still in place.
Families also say there is no equipment for children to use following the removal of the play area and little green space for them to enjoy.
Angry residents have now called for the works on the park to be completed but fear they may never happen following the council effectively declaring itself bankrupt.
They accused the local authority of making “empty promises” and say they should have known the cost of hosting the games would be the “final nail in the coffin.”
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Birmingham City Council boasted it would regenerate the inner city area including new homes, a shipping container park and the revamped stadium.
New flats were also built nearby for the athletes’ village but the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and spiralling costs meant they were not ready on time.
A whopping £16m was spent moving the Perry Barr bus depot 300 metres to make way for the flat development.
Residents say the benefits of hosting the event was difficult to see 13 months on from welcoming people from across the globe to the city.
Mum-of-two Sandra Wilde, 45, of Perry Barr, said: “It’s no wonder the council has gone bankrupt – we should never have hosted the games. It was just a vanity project.
“It was all unveiled to great fanfare when behind the scenes they were struggling to balance the books even back then.
“The area has been left a real mess with people unable to use our local park. You’ve got fences and big boards up everywhere which are strewn with graffiti.
“It’s attracting anti-social behaviour. If anything the area has got worse not better.
“They have made empty promises the whole way through – from an athletes’ village which wasn’t even used to a train station design that changed from a state-of-the art place to what looks like a copper garden shed.
“The council also spent stupid amounts of money on moving a bus depot a few yards down the road – it’s just baffling this has been allowed to happen.”
Jon Pritchard, 31, an IT worker, from Perry Barr, added: “We’ve been constantly fobbed off with false promises and the place has been left to rot.
“It’s been a complete waste of money and now the council has gone bust I fear the work will never get finished.
“It’s still like a building site a more than a year on. The stadium lies derelict most of the time. The place is dead. Nobody lives in the athletes’ village flats yet either.
“The atmosphere during the games was magical and it felt like Birmingham was finally on the map – now we’re just back to being a laughing stock again.
“It’s scandalous what they have done. How can a big city likes this, the Second City, be allowed to go bankrupt. It’s sheer incompetence.”
Amdadur Rahman moved to Perry Barr from Stratford, East London, a few weeks ago and said the Birmingham games legacy was nothing compared to the 2012 Olympics.
He said: “They should have put on more activities and sorted the park for the children. You go to the Olympic Stadium and there’s lots of stuff for kids.
“Compared to the London stadium which is open to people, this stadium is dead. So they should be doing something.
“This place should be busy, but it’s not, they should be working with schools to advertise it for community use. It could be really nice.
“Now the council going bankrupt makes me very concerned they won’t finish the work off in the park and surrounding area.”
Full-time mum Khameela Bukhari, 35, added: “It’s just horrible, you can’t take the kids to do anything. It’s one of those places you don’t want to go anywhere near now.
“We were promised the park would be finished for residents to go back there and there’s nothing. It’s heartbreaking. It’s not a nice place to be anymore.
“It’s like a junk place, people would dump things. It was horrible. We were told it would go back to normal. We didn’t think we would be stuck like this.
“It’s like one big hole. At the stadium nothing is happening, it’s all fenced off, what’s the point? It’s all false promises.
“We were told everything would be better for residents and there would be this games legacy and there’s been nothing. Nothing has been done.
“it’s not fair on us, we all pay our taxes. The facilities were there and they’ve not been given back. It’s dead money. They’ve invested but what’s happening after? Nothing.”
Kath Sandra, 70, who lives near the stadium, said: “It was only yesterday we said it was looking a right mess. We don’t know what’s going on.
“They took a play area away and haven’t given it back. There’s a lot of gripe there with parents. They built some flats but nobody uses them.
“The Commonwealth Games was amazing and it must have bought money in. But now they are bankrupt through their own fault and it us that will have to pay for it.”
The largest local authority in Europe this week issued a Section 114 notice preventing all but essential spending and still has a budget gap of £87m to plug.
The total cost of the games was estimated at about £778m, with the city council and local partners contributing around £184m.
Months before the games, the council reported a £25m hole in its funding for the event and said the shortfall would be made up from a contingency fund.
A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: “Since the Alexander Stadium was handed back by Games organisers to the council in November 2022, a programme of reinstatement works has started in parallel with the development of plans to deliver a wide range of further legacy enhancements to the surrounding park area.
“This has resulted in various parts of the site being re-opened to the public as soon as possible since then.
“Local residents, site users and community groups have been kept updated throughout – and we are preparing for a period of public engagement on the legacy proposals that will be starting soon.
“We fully understand the desire for the park to be reinstated and appreciate the patience that has been shown in recent months.
“We are determined to work with those who have an interest in the park to shape plans for a significantly enhanced site for everyone to enjoy.”
Regarding the Games, the spokesperson added: “The Commonwealth Games was a fantastic achievement and a great showcase for the city on a global stage.
“These immediate challenges will not diminish the council’s ambition in supporting the upward trajectory that the City of Birmingham is currently experiencing following the successful delivery of the Games.
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“Record levels of investment continue to flow into the city, and the council will work with key strategic partners to ensure that this remains the case.
“Birmingham is very much open for business.”
Source: Athletics - thesun.co.uk