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Race against time to build Commonwealth Games aquatics centre

By Richard Guttridge | Sandwell | Commonwealth Games | Published:

A 'robust' plan is needed as soon as possible to ensure a multi-million pound aquatics centre is built in time for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, a new report has revealed.

An artist's impression of how the aquatics centre could look

The project to build the swimming centre in Smethwick has been marked as ‘red’ in a new report, suggesting there are concerns over whether it will be delivered on time.

The report said Sandwell Council risks ‘significant reputational damage’ if the £60m centre cannot be delivered on time or on budget.

The aquatics centre will host swimming and diving at the Birmingham games in four years in a major coup for Sandwell.

The centre will be built on fields on Londonderry Lane

Once the Games are complete, it will then be used as a leisure centre.

Funding will be delivered by Commonwealth Games organisers.

The report said: "If the council does not put in place robust project arrangements for the successful delivery of the aquatic centre to project scope, timescales and cost, then this will result in significant reputational damage to the council."

Sandwell Council leader Steve Eling said he was 'not concerned at this stage' about the project.

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Bosses are aiming to begin work early next year and for the centre to be complete by 2021, a year ahead of the Games.

But the fixed date of the competition means the pressure is on to ensure there are no delays.

The playing fields off Londonderry Lane in Smethwick which will be transformed as the site of the aquatics centre

Councillor Eling said: "It is part of a complicated Commonwealth Games project. If we were delivering it on our own it would be a much simpler process.

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"The risk rating would be smaller if we had the whole funding. There are still a number of details across the whole Commonwealth Games to be decided.

"It's not something I'm concerned about at this stage. The assurances I'm getting is things are on track.

"We are using a Government framework so we already know who the contractor will be."

A major project to transform the site will be started within months

He added: "The Games are in 2022. They can't be put back a few months so that creates a higher risk than would otherwise be the case.

"I want to ensure all these things are in place by the autumn so construction on site can begin in early 2019.

"It is a red risk because it is a major project and it is time sensitive but we are on track and dealing with the things we have got to be dealing with.

"If we get to later in the year and we still haven't got things in place then I'm going to have to be rattling somebody's cage."

Thousands of fans are set to flock to the Black Country to see some of the world's best swimming stars compete at the Games.

The state-of-the-art facility will be built on playing fields in Londonderry Lane and will feature an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a 25-metre diving pool and 5,000 spectator seats.

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Chief Reporter - @RichG_star

Chief Reporter for the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton.

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