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COMMONWEALTH GAMES: Further £50k allocated towards projects

COMMONWEALTH GAMES: Further £50k allocated towards projects

Image: LDRS

Plans to welcome visitors from around the world to Cannock Chase as part of next year’s Commonwealth Games are progressing after councillors agreed to allocate another £50,000 towards projects.

Cannock Chase Forest is hosting the mountain biking event on August 3 2022 and preparations are well under way, with a new trail being developed.

Last year Cannock Chase Council agreed to provide £50,000 from its district investment fund towards the mountain bike trail. And on Thursday cabinet members approved further funding of £40,000 towards improvements to the Chase Heritage Trail, £8,000 investment in volunteering opportunities and £2,000 for roadshows.

Councillor Adrienne Fitzgerald, the authority’s new cabinet member for heritage and leisure, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase our local communities and the district locally, nationally and internationally. It is important we have a legacy from this event and any investment made by this council must achieve most benefit for our residents.

“While the mountain biking event will be staged for one day only, we recognise that being a host district during the Games will present significant legacy opportunities that can last for years beyond the event in August 2022.

“The Heritage Trail is a great way for people to explore our district and appreciate its history and keep healthy at the same time. It takes in many local attractions including going past the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet and the Museum of Cannock Chase.”

A report to Thursday’s cabinet meeting said: “It is proposed by the OC (Organising Committee) that the designated walking route from Rugeley Train Station to Birches Valley will use the existing Chase Heritage Trail. Whilst the current trail is appropriate, it will require some improvement – new waymarker signage, mileage posts and updated plans and promotional leaflets – to support the hosting of the Commonwealth Games event and showcase the district in its best light.

“Undertaking the proposed improvements to the trail now will present an opportunity to future proof the 10-mile trail for the benefit of our residents and return visitors to the district.

“New volunteering opportunities to support the Commonwealth Games 2022 will provide invaluable work experience and if possible we need to ensure our residents and young people benefit from these opportunities, particularly those who would not normally get such chances or those who are unemployed.

“It is proposed that £8,000 be allocated to enable officers to explore the opportunity to support additional volunteers from our district to participate in the games or supporting local events. If this is not possible, then the funding will remain earmarked for other possible projects which align to the council’s legacy objectives.”

Up to two roadshow events in the district will aim to promote the games, jobs and skills, volunteering, business and employment opportunities.

The report added: “Similarly, during the games there will be opportunities for host venues to hold live site events with large screens positioned in some town centres or parks showing the Games events live. These can run alongside local events and run for the duration of the Games or just one day.

However, the cost of such events – security, road closures, volunteers, facility provision etc – would have to be met by the local authority or town or parish council. At this stage it is not clear as to whether any local sponsorship can be sourced to offset such costs.

Cabinet members heard that Hednesford and Rugeley railway stations would be part of the travel network to bring visitors in from the 2022 Games’ host city Birmingham.

But a venue transport working group concluded that the Chase Line would not have the capacity to meet all demand from spectators travelling from Birmingham, particularly as the line would also be serving athletics events being held at Alexander Stadium at the same time as the mountain biking. As a result an additional spectator shuttle bus service will be run from Stafford’s railway station.

Words: Kerry Ashdown, Local Democracy Reporter

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