“THE appetite for a velodrome in the West Midlands clearly exists,” according to campaigners, who are still hoping that a new venue will be built in time for the Commonwealth Games.

The past few weeks have seen a whirlwind of controversy surrounding the decision to hold track cycling events for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in London, as opposed to locally.

Despite the Commonwealth Games team initially claiming that a full feasibility study was undertaken regarding the possibility of building a new venue in the region, it has since emerged that no such study was done.

Instead, officials have said, the decision was based on a series of consultations between Sport England, Birmingham City Council and the Commonwealth Games team.

However, just how detailed these consultations were has also come under scrutiny this week, following the publication of a string of emails between officials from the interested parties.

The emails made no reference to any particular figures regarding the decision. Any figures that were quoted were only estimates.

Leader of the council Ian Ward also added last week that a full feasibility study into hosting the Commonwealth Games in general was conducted prior to decisions about venues being made.

Ever since the announcement of the decision earlier this year, cycling campaigners have been petitioning for a velodrome to be built in the region.

A petition on Change.org now has over 5,000 signatures, and founder Charlie Dickens believes it is not too late for the bid team to change their minds.

“I’m under no illusion that building a world class velodrome in time for the Commonwealth Games will be difficult,” he said.

“But it is still achievable.

“However, Birmingham City Council have clearly tried to cover up this scandal by repeatedly brushing the issue under the carpet.

“To build one in time for 2022 would require BCC to come clean about how they didn’t even bother to carry out a feasibility study, despite saying that a full one was carried out, and be transparent about who made this decision.

“The appetite for a velodrome in the Midlands clearly exists, so absolutely the cyclists and people of the West Midlands should demand the very best facilities be built in the area.

“Given that Birmingham City Council have proved so incompetent and are now clearly trying to cover up their mistakes, perhaps there is another solution – strip London of the track cycling and build a temporary velodrome in Birmingham for the Games so that people from the area can attend this event, instead of having to travel to London for an event at our Commonwealth Games.

“In addition, plans should be drawn up with immediate effect for a world class legacy velodrome to be built in the West Midlands if one cannot be built in time for the Games.

“Having people travel to London for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games when temporary facilities can be used is utterly ludicrous.”

Another strong advocate of the campaign to build a new velodrome is David Viner, trustee of Halesowen A&CC and chair of the cycling section.

And he believes that a new facility wouldn’t need to be just for cycling, and could be used for a number of other sports as well.

“In June last year we knew the Commonwealth Games were coming, and everyone thought fantastic, this has got to be the opportunity for the velodrome,” he said.

“So then you start to ask questions, and at that stage it was all kept very quiet and nobody was talking about velodromes. Really the campaign has all been about trying to get the decision makers to look again at their decision.

“My take on this is that I think Birmingham have come forward by four years, and it’s going to be very very difficult to get all the venues built in time, with the finance.

“And I think track cycling has been sacrificed, and they’ve gone for the easy option, and what they would say is the safe option, of holding the cycling in London

“But I think the time has come now for sports facilities to be created in a really intelligent way. For instance with a velodrome you can do far more than cycling.

“You can do table-tennis, you can do five-a-side football, you can do wrestling, you can do boxing, you can do judo. And I know that because I’ve seen it happen in Newport. It’s multi-sport.

“Then you look at disabled sports. There’s so much potential for disabled sports, too. So I would love to see Sport England and British Cycling really investigate getting a velodrome, and make it absolutely multi-use. So you’ve got cycling going on at the same time as other sports going on.”

The campaign has also recently been backed by British cyclist and European champion Andy Tennant, who said: “I think a legacy from the 2022 Commonwealth Games for the West Midlands would be fantastic.

“I think the idea to build an Olympic standard velodrome in the Midlands is a fantastic idea.  I remember my first time on an indoor velodrome, something which riding an outdoor track just can’t prepare you properly for.

“I think the more facilities we can have to encourage people to be active, the better.  I would love to see it located closer to Wolverhampton and redevelop a brownfield site into something the community can really use.”

You can sign the petition by visiting: goo.gl/RrPdSp