Sandwell Council is building the Sandwell Aquatics Centre, which will leave a legacy for people and businesses in Sandwell and the wider region.
The new leisure centre is bringing to Sandwell a 50m Olympic-sized swimming pool, 25m diving pool, community swimming pool, activity studios, sports halls, gyms, cycling studio, dry diving centre, sauna, football pitch, urban park, children’s play area and café. This will be a place where local people will gain immeasurable health, fitness and social benefits.
Officers at Sandwell Council have been determined that the construction and ongoing management will also deliver ‘social value’ for the region. They have sought to award work to suppliers who not only provide the best economic value, but secure wider benefits for the community.
The council made it a priority to ensure community benefit clauses were clearly written into its contract with main contractor Wates Construction to ensure the aquatics centre development brings lasting jobs, skills, local regeneration and business growth to Sandwell.
Subcontracted companies are also expected to use the local supply chain, ensuring money invested in Sandwell is retained and further recycled in the area. John Carlin, regional managing director for Wates Construction, said: “Based locally ourselves, we understand how local supply chain opportunities can provide significant economic and social benefits to a community, acting as a force for good.”
His procurement team took part in a ‘meet the buyer’ event early on in the contract where local businesses could learn about opportunities stemming from the development and find out how to apply. Helped by this transparency and accessibility, several key contracts relating to the Sandwell Aquatics Centre have already been awarded to local companies:
- Midport Construction on Whitgreave Street in West Bromwich will be doing the roofing work.
- APiC UK, based at Sandwell Business Park in Smethwick, will be providing the centre’s architectural facade.
- Doocey Group, headquartered on Watery Lane in Tipton, is overseeing utilities preparatory work on the site.
- UK Access Solutions, based on Bilport Lane in Wednesbury, will be supplying scaffolding.
- Mollie’s Baguette Bar on Londonderry Road in Oldbury will be running the site canteen.
The development of the aquatics centre is also helping to build skills for the future, enabling employees and apprentices to gain experience on such a large, high-profile project. Andy Stapleton, sales director of APiC UK, said: “The contract with the Sandwell Aquatics Centre has meant that two of our apprentices have already moved on to permanent jobs, creating vacancies for two new apprentices.” Wates Construction has appointed local people as part of its apprenticeships and training programmes to work on the project through subcontractors Morrisroe and Metclad.
There is also a good chance that Sandwell Aquatics Centre will inspire the region’s future athletes. Sandwell Council has signed a ten-year agreement with Wolverhampton University, giving sports students access to the facility for studying and training from 2023.
Councillor Maria Crompton, Deputy Leader for Sandwell Council, said: “The new state-of-the-art Sandwell Aquatics Centre will be an amazing community facility and the first of its kind in the region to provide an incredible mix of facilities, from 50m Olympic-sized swimming pool, community pool and dive tower along with gym, sport halls and so much more.
“The centre will open doors for future athletes to train at the world-class facility to compete in international sporting events and we hope to inspire a new generation of sporting athletes in the Sandwell.
“I am also pleased that this project has opened up opportunities for local people to gain work as apprentices and trainees to work on constructing this centre of excellence, which will benefit the community and the West Midlands.
“As a council we are also seeking to build an inclusive economy which raises people and communities up alongside businesses. We are equally proud to be ensuring social value is woven into the very fabric of our world-class Sandwell Aquatics Centre. Its legacy will last for many years.”
To find out more about social value and the part it plays in the tendering process, visit our social value page.