West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has today (24/02) warned the council that it is jeopardising the Commonwealth Games by attempting to knock down the Perry Barr Flyover.
The council cabinet approved the demolition of the Flyover four months ago, despite a 15,000-strong petition opposing the plans. Since the approval, no work has been done on the structure which links the city centre to Walsall.
The Mayor, who has spoken out against the demolition since it was first announced, has now renewed his calls to keep the flyover in place due to the delays to work and the risk it poses to the Commonwealth Games in 2022.
The comments from Andy come after it was revealed that the Athletes Village for the games has already gone over-budget.
Documents released in a recent council meeting quoted: “The costs associated with delivery of the village are seeing substantial inflationary pressures as a result of both the high levels of activity in and around Birmingham and the constrained timescales for delivery of the village.
“As a result of these cost pressures it is no longer possible to fully deliver the village in the way originally envisaged within the previously identified cost envelope of £492.6m.”
Andy said: “I have always believed that knocking down the flyover was the wrong thing to do, as the data is clear that it would make the traffic flow worse and inflict unnecessary misery on local residents and businesses.
“However I now have very serious concerns about the risk this demolition poses to the Commonwealth Games. The original decision to knock the flyover down was taken back in October last year, but four months on no work has taken place.
“With this delay in mind, we now face the very real risk of work to demolish the flyover and replace it with a dual carriageway not being completed in time for the Games in 2022. It would be incredibly damaging for the city’s reputation if athletes and tourists turned up and were faced with a building site.
“With the news about the Athletes Village being over-budget already, would the £27m cost of demolishing the flyover not be better spent making sure the village was up to scratch for both athletes and future home owners?
“The flyover is a bridge too far for the Commonwealth Games, and I would urge Birmingham City Council to scrap its plans.”
The Mayor added: “I fully support the notion of trying to encourage more people to leave the car at home and use public transport to help tackle the region’s climate emergency, but demolishing the flyover is not a necessary part of this.
“For example our new sprint bus route, which will provide a dedicated rapid bus service across Birmingham and up the Walsall Road, has been approved by the WMCA board and can be built and be fully effective with the flyover still in place.
“As Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) has already highlighted, Perry Barr could become the best connected suburb in Birmingham with or without the flyover in place.”