Olympian Derek Redmond accuses Birmingham City Council of trying to 'kill' Commonwealth Games legacy

Olympian Derek Redmond has accused Birmingham City Council of trying to 'kill' the Commonwealth Games legacy in a row over access to the Alexander Stadium.His athletics club Birchfield Harriers claim it cannot operate properly at their £72m venue which is owned by the council.The cash-strapped local authority has spent tens of thousands of pounds on legal fees in their dispute with Birchfield.The amateur athletics club claim the council is trying to bully them into signing a new agreement.Redmond told ITV News Central: "They [Birmingham City Council] are actually driving athletes away because if this was me now and we was in this situation, I'd think twice, do I want to be at Birchfield?"

Alexander Stadium Credit: PA images

Birchfield run club nights on Tuesdays and Thursdays but say they are locked out of the stadium gym and their office.It's a far cry from the warmth of Summer 2022 when the stadium was the flagship for Birmingham's Commonwealth Games."There is a legacy up to a point and all of a sudden now Birmingham City Council seem to want to kill that legacy. They want to seem to put a lid on it. 

"You know, there are some things that I've been hearing that Birmingham City Council are fighting against Birchfield Harriers for the rights to be here and to use the facilities that are here," Redmond added.The disagreement centres on a deal struck in the 1970s when Birchfield invested around £300,000 into the old stadium and got a long-term lease to use it.A Freedom of Information request revealed up to August last year the Council had spent £89,000 on legal fees trying to get Birchfield to agree a new one.

Birmingham City Council declared effective bankruptcy in September. Credit: PA

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: "The redevelopment of the Alexander Stadium into a state-of-the-art £72million world-class venue means there has been a need to review the licence arrangements that were originally agreed with Birchfield Harriers in 1975, which applied to a completely different stadium."As a publicly funded body, the council has a duty to ensure value for money and that we maximise the use and community benefit of this new facility. As such we have been in discussions with the club about how we best accommodate their needs and others wishing to utilise the venue."These ongoing discussions are based on the existing peppercorn rent terms being maintained at the rates agreed back in 1975, so in reality the use of the new facilities will represent a better cost-benefit outcome for the club."We look forward to reaching an agreement that enables Birchfield Harriers to benefit from the new and enhanced facilities on offer within this context of achieving a wider community good."There is certainly an issue with legacy with Birchfield's membership. Before the Commonwealth Games it was around 800. During the period they were out because of the Games the membership halved and they are still over 100 short of their pre-Games high.Rebuilding that is proving difficult, restoring their relationship with Birmingham City Council would surely help but it currently looks even further away.

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