Sandwell Aquatics Centre project director Chris Jones awarded MBE

Congratulations to Sandwell Council’s project director for the Sandwell Aquatics Centre, Chris Jones, on being awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours list.

Chris has been recognised for services to sport and to the community in the West Midlands for his instrumental role in the council delivering the project for the hugely successful Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Huge economic benefits

Head and shoulders shot of Chris Jones smiling, wearing a red checked shirt and black glassesSandwell Aquatics Centre in Smethwick was the only new, purpose-built venue for the Games and hosted all the swimming, para-swimming and diving events. It was delivered in partnership with Wates Construction Ltd in time for the Games, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, Brexit and the wettest winter on record.

During construction, the world-class facility delivered huge economic benefits within Sandwell and the entire West Midlands region, boosting jobs, apprenticeships and local businesses in the supply chain.

Chris and his team worked with a wide range of partner organisations at a national and regional level to deliver the project. Chris remained with Sandwell Council after the Games to oversee the handover to Wates for the legacy construction phase but he has now left the authority for a new job.

The Aquatics Centre will  open to the public in summer 2023 following a ten-month period of legacy construction.

‘Privileged and humbled’

Chris said: “I feel very privileged and humbled to receive this honour and it is also in recognition of all the staff at Sandwell Council, partners and volunteers who contributed to the Aquatics Centre project and such a successful Games.”

Sandwell Council Leader Councillor Kerrie Carmichael said: “I am absolutely delighted that Chris Jones has been recognised for his inspirational leadership in managing the Sandwell Aquatics Centre project.

“Chris also played a key role in delivering three other new leisure centres in Sandwell over the past decade – Tipton, West Bromwich and Wednesbury – so his legacy to the people of Sandwell is very significant.

“I would also like to congratulate a number of other members of the Birmingham 2022 team recognised in the New Year Honours.”

Councillor Carmichael added: “Sandwell was put well and truly on the world map during the Commonwealth Games thanks to Sandwell Aquatics Centre – and it was so exciting to see athletes and visitors from across the globe here in Sandwell.

“The centre was always designed as a community leisure facility first and tailored for use during the Commonwealth Games, rather than the other way around.

“Now we are looking to the future and opening this world-class facility to local residents and the wider West Midlands for people to use and enjoy for decades to come.”

Wider plans to regenerate Sandwell

Tony McGovern is Director of Regeneration and Growth for Sandwell Council. He said: “This award is very well-deserved for Chris Jones and, on behalf of Sandwell Council, I would like to congratulate him on his MBE. It is also recognition for the team of council staff and volunteers who helped to deliver such a successful Commonwealth Games.

“The centre is part of the council’s wider plans to regenerate Sandwell and drive further investment and opportunity.”

The centre will retain its 50-metre Olympic-sized swimming pool, ten-metre-high dive tower and 25-metre dive pool, along with seating for a thousand spectators.

In addition to these world-standard features, the centre will also boast the following facilities:

  • A community swimming pool (20m x 10m)
  • Three 150 sqm activity studios
  • Two four-court sports halls (690 sqm each)
  • 108-station fitness gym
  • 25-station women-only fitness gym
  • 33-station indoor cycling studio
  • Changing village for up to 600 users
  • Dry diving centre with mini floor trampolines
  • A sauna/steam room
  • New outdoor football pitch and changing facilities
  • New urban park and children’s play areas
  • Parking for up to 300 vehicles
  • Café.

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