Commonwealth Games 2022 Celebrates the Region

Jas Sansi joins the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce for their annual Patron’s Dinner.

Keynote speaker James Walsh, Head of Legacy & Engagement at Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 shares insight of what we can expect in three years. 


In a huge year for English Cricket, Hotel du Vin are about to hit a quarter of a century. The Birmingham hotel welcomed guests for the ABCC event where President Qasim Majid thanked Patrons for their continuing support in a year where membership grew 13%.


The makeup of membership is changing with increasing numbers of Digital Companies as well as those operating in Agriculture joining the organisation.


Ticket sales for the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce annual awards have now gone live. I’m looking forward to 7th December 2019 where the winners will be announced at the Motorcycle Museum in Solihull.


There are two new categories; Best Venue and Family Business of the Year. Nominations close on 27th September 2019, so if you know organisations and companies that deserve recognition, reach out to ABCC Director Anjum Khan at


Keynote speaker James Walsh who has recently joined Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 shared some fascinating insight into what will be the biggest sporting event ever held in the region.


2022 will be the first Commonwealth Games to have more medal awards for women than men. The introduction of Women’s Cricket tipped the balance.


The Commonwealth Games 2022 will inject over a Billion Pounds into the region with a three to one return on investment.


There are a total of 19 sports in a spectacle that will showcase not only Birmingham but the entire region with events being held in Solihull, Sandwell, Coventry, Cannock Chase and Leamington Spa. Cycling will be held at Lee Valley Velopark in London.


Alexander Stadium is in the process of being transformed into a 30,000 seat arena for the duration of the games. This will be reduced to 18,000 following the Games.


The Queen’s Baton Relay will visit all of the Commonwealth Countries before returning back to the UK.


I was pleased to hear how the games will benefit not only Brum but the wider region allowing a celebration of the Midlands.

Huge thanks to Hotel du Vin and Malmaison for hosting the event. The refurbishment has transformed the popular hotel on Church Street ahead of the brand’s 25th Anniversary. Definitely a medal winner for Brum.


Thank you to James Walsh for bringing guests up to date on 2022.

Massive thank you to the Patrons who ensure the ABCC continues to fly the flag for the region’s businesses. See you on 7th December.

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham @jassansi 07930 837 505




Birmingham Conference and Event Venues

Having photographed Conferences across the UK and Europe for over a decade, Jas Sansi looks at the best venues in his home city of Birmingham.

A summary of the best venues and what makes them stand out.

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As we enter the Conference and Awards Season, I’ve listed a number of the outstanding venues here in Brum.

Birmingham is ideally placed at the very heart of the UK to be considered your first choice for hosting an event. 90% of the the entire country’s population is less than four hours away.

However, it isn’t geography that makes Brum the number one choice for business and leisure, its the people. I’ve enjoyed working in all of these venues and it’s always the teams who ensure the smooth delivery of events that make a difference.

Whether you’re flying in, driving or letting the train take the strain, you will receive a very warm Birmingham welcome. Let me know if I need to include any others.

IET Austin Court  @IETvenues


Great location on the canals of Birmingham. Close to the bars and restaurants of Brindleyplace, as well as the city’s entertainment quarter, Westside BID.
IET Austin Court is like a Tardis, it looks small on the outside, but expands exponentially inside. A unique venue in historic buildings, it was also the place Theresa May learned she had become Prime Minister in 2016.
Bill Clinton enjoyed a pint in the Malthouse Pub next door during the G8 summit. There’s a photograph of him on the wall. The glass he drank out of was smashed by the President’s security detail to prevent his fingerprints being extracted.

ICC @ICC_Birmingham 

This is Birmingham’s flagship Conference Venue. The ICC enjoy the scale and flexibility to host World Class Conferences. The in-house Catering Team, Amadeus, delivered the catering for London 2012. Usain Bolt’s 100 Meters at the Games in 9.63 seconds was fuelled by these guys.
Location is superb, there is a bridge linking the ICC to the Hyatt Regency next door. The bridge is bullet proof as it was used by Bill Clinton at G8.
The recent addition of a water feature outside the ICC demonstrates the on going investment in Brum as a destination city for business and leisure.
Inside, the ICC has recently enjoyed a complete refurbishment. The building is a bridge between the Business District of Colmore BID and the Entertainment District of Westside BID.

Resorts World @RW_Birmingham
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Part of the NEC Group and the newest Conference space in Brum. This sits on the NEC Campus lake and enjoys unparalleled transport links. You can get here by car, train, bus, or plane. The only way you can’t get to Resorts World is by water but that doesn’t stop the International Boat Show.
Resorts World is also home to Genting Hotel, and close to Birmingham Metropole and Crowne Plaza so delegates can attend and stay over without having to make the ten minute train journey to Birmingham city centre. Which would be a shame, as there is a lot to enjoy.

Edgbaston @Edgbaston

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Affectionately known as the Fortress where England had never lost a game ahead of the Ashes in 2019, this iconic venue has fabulous conference facilities in the leafy suburb of Edgbaston.
The closest hotel is Edgbaston Park Hotel, Marriott Five Ways and Radisson Blu, but there are plans for a Hampton by Hilton to be built next door.
Lots of parking on site, 15 minute walk from the city centre and a busy bus route so easy to get to.

Villa Park @AVFCOfficial
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Birmingham’s only Premiership football team are based at Villa Park. The venue has invested heavily in producing an excellent space for Conferences and Events.
It’s a ten minute drive from the city centre, lots of parking on site and a very popular choice.
Catering is provided by Compass, who are the world’s biggest catering organisation.

This is a unique venue of choice.
A drinks reception your guests will never forget can be organised in Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery’s Roundroom.
It’s just one of several spaces available to hire in a venue that is in the top 100 most visited Museums in the world.

Town Hall @THSHBirmingham

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A Grade One listed building that has welcomed Charles Dickens, Buddy Holly and The Beatles has helped shape this venue into arguably the most iconic in Brum.
A twenty seven million pound transformation has resulted in a space that is as stunning on the inside as outside.
There’ll be a Metro Tram stop right outside next year and its a three minute walk to New Street Station.

University of Birmingham @unibirmingham
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The Great Hall is a remarkable banqueting space at the heart of the University’s Edgbaston campus.
The University is a seven minute cab ride from Birmingham City centre and is served well by bus and train transport links.
Edgbaston Park Hotel allows delegates to stay over. The University has invested heavily in recent years including a new 50 Metre swimming pool.

Hyatt @HyattBham

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The Conference and Banqueting rooms are on the Mezzanine floor of Hyatt Regency Birmingham.
All of the services you would expect from a world class brand, the space is both versatile and incredible. A huge refurbishment has bought this venue up to the highest standards.

Hotel du Vin @HdV_Birmingham

This is a very popular events space in Birmingham’s Business District.
The atrium’s roof is retractable, and is surrounded by a number of different rooms available for hire.
You have to see the refurbished bedrooms to believe them.

Malmaison @BirminghamMal
Currently celebrating its 25th Anniversary, Malmaison are proud to do things differently.
Did you know Malmaison Oxford used to be a prison, and the Edinburgh branch was originally a brothel. The Birmingham one doesn’t have such an interesting past, it used to be a Royal Mail sorting office.
The team at Malmaison will support you in delivering an excellent event.  The hotel is situated in The Mailbox and walking distance to everywhere.

Library of Birmingham @LibraryofBham
The biggest Library in Europe, the Library of Birmingham opened in 2013 and has wowed visitors ever since.
The balcony overlooking Centenary Square is one of several spaces available to hire and can be used to host the ultimate barbecue.

This is the closest hotel to New Street Station and has recently been transformed with a huge investment program.
There are 14 refurbishments meeting rooms and suites. Situated in the heart of the shopping district, this remains a very popular choice.

This is a just a few of the many spaces available for Conference and Events hire, let me know which ones I’ve missed out.
Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer specialising in Conference and Awards photography.
@jassansi 07930 837 505

Blow the Whistle


As a West Brom fan, I’m no stranger to enduring poor starts to a season. Post match analysis rarely sheds light on poor performance; the team has yet to gel, a new coach trying to establish the strengths of the squad, lack of funds to bring in new players etc etc

The Conservative’s display following Summer break has been a shocker. Team Johnstone have become the Bury FC of Politics; every Common’s vote lost, non existent EU negotiations unveiled, 21 MPs expelled, another deflected, the Prime Minister’s brother resigns his Ministerial post to spend less time with his family, prominent MPs announce their departure at the imminenet General Election. The catalogue of despair goes on.

I woke up to read Caroline Spelman MP is stepping down. Not an hour goes by without breaking news about the new Prime Minister. Boris Johnston has more dirty laundry than a muddy November fixture at Accrington Stanley and it is being washed publicly across all new channels.

the Prime Minister’s brother resigns his Ministerial post to spend less time with his family

The Vice President of America flew in yesterday to add his ten pence to the laughing clown machine. He said ‘…the minute the UK is out, America is in.’ I imagine Matt Hancock putting the final touches to the NHS For Sale board.

Fifteen of our twenty Premiership Clubs are owned by overseas investors. The damage Brexit has inflicted on the value of the Pound has seen the UK become the ultimate January Sale. Never have we needed more, to take back control. 

In football, the table never lies, Boris Johnson is languishing at the bottom with no wins to his name. He has clearly lost the dressing room. Are we about to witness a shocking relegation?


Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham (about two miles from the Hawthorns) @jassansi 07930 837 505



The Relationship in Front is Challenging


On the train back from London over the weekend, a number of boisterous football fans were sitting in the same coach as me.

They were in high spirits and singing as football fans do.

Some sat adjacent to me, and 15 minutes into the journey back to Birmingham, I found myself in conversation with them.

They were Derby fans, and as a West Brom fan in the same league, we had a lot to talk about.

At some point, the conversation moved to Brexit. Hand on heart, I did not raise this subject. I talk about it a lot, but on this occasion, it wasn’t me guv.

The Derby fans all worked for Toyota in Burnaston which employs 3000 people at the East Midlands site. The Japanese company hope to celebrate thirty years in  Derbyshire this Christmas. I asked them about Brexit and what effect it was having on their company.

This was a very honest conversation, and concern for their future was evident. I asked where Toyota source parts from, many are from the Midlands, especially the Black Country, a lot of parts come in from Europe.

I learned 12% of their vehicles are sold in the UK and 88% exported to the EU.

One of the fans was previously in the British Army based in Northern Ireland, he described his working shift, he told me the work, assembling interior panels, was physically challenging but he enjoyed it and workers were generously compensated. If they were required to work overtime, following a shift, it had to be done. He added he tended not to make solid plans with his fiancé after work because of this.

Overtime was paid so this wasn’t something he begrudged. He did say the company ‘own the workers.’

I asked him what preparations Toyota have made ahead of EU departure date on 31st October, he wasn’t sure other than they have been instructed to stay at home on 1st November. He made reference to the closure of the Honda factory in Swindon.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has grown up blanketed in privilege. From the playing fields of Eton, Oxford’s Bullingdon Club and as European Correspondent for The Times before becoming an MP in safe Conservative constituencies, Mayor of London, Foreign Secretary and now Prime Minister, he has enjoyed the dividends of fate. 

Has Mr Johnson ever looked into the eyes of a factory worker and understood the challenges of their life, one in which retirement is encouraged in your fifties because of the physical demands of the work?

When Mr Johnstone makes a witty comment, playing to his back benchers and a wider Brexit audience watching him on screen, seeing him in the papers and listening on radio, I’ll be thinking about the conversation I had on this journey.

The train slowed as we entered Brum, I saw the fans disappear into the crowd at New Street, heading off to make the connection to Derby.

The short sightedness of a No Deal Brexit ignores the painful reality this course of action will have on the UK’s working population.

Derby lost 3-0 that day to Brentford.


Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham @jassansi 07930 837 505




The Fat Swan, Yardley

Fabulously cooked food and remarkable value for money. Jas Sansi drops into The Fat Swan in Yardley to see the latest member of the region’s Desi Grill food scene.



I know a lot about Brum. I’m like a tall Carl Chinn but without the Doctorate. Forget having more water than Venice, or more cranes than Dubai, I’m talking about stuff that isn’t out there; for example, my dad was the first person to drive across Hockley Flyover. I can’t prove it and he’s no longer around for cross examination, but he told me he was, and I believe him.


I also know, prisoners at HMP Birmingham kick the walls every year at midnight on New Year’s Eve to express their dismay at another year of incarceration. The Winson Green Hilton generates a dust cloud that triggers all the fire alarms. And you thought Centenary Square boasts the biggest New Year’s Eve bash!
You pick up this sort of knowledge after half a Century of living in a place. But here’s the thing, I know nothing about Yardley. I drove there last week and it’s the first time I’ve ever exited the Coventry Road stretch between Bedders the chippy and Birmingham Airport.
I popped into my friend’s new restaurant, The Fat Swan above the Clumsy Swan pub.
The Fat Swan’s Chef has a fine dining background from Broad Street. He heads up the kitchen to bring Nepalese and Indian food under the concept of a Desi Grill. Relaxed dining and incredible food.
Here’s why a visit to The Fat Swan should be on your To Do list. The Chef is a very talented and highly skilled individual. He previously headed up a fine dining operation, and one that justifiably attracted awards.

This new operation is at a much lower price point reflecting their out of town location. Don’t let this prevent you from enjoying Rolls Royce food at Volkswagon Prices (including the fumes if you order the mixed grill.)
The owner told me he wants to invest further in delivering an interior reflecting the quality of the kitchen’s output. The plan is to grow the business in order to finance this; a sensible and sustainable strategy from someone who has enjoyed many years in the food industry.
I photographed some of the key dishes, trying them all afterwards. They taste even better than they look, and they look fabulous.
Get down the Coventry Road, turn off at the Swan Roundabout and make your way to The Fat Swan.
Local MP Jess Phillips is one of the biggest champions for Brum. She will be first to tell you she is unashamedly loud in representing the interests of her constituents. The Fat Swan is another great reason to have a big mouth in Yardley. And I say that in the nicest possible way.
The Fat Swan
(Above the Clumsy Swan Pub)
1 Stoney Lane
B25 8YP
07828 255189
Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham @jassansi  07930 837 505

Welcome Back


Prime Minister Boris Johnson receives an extraordinary welcome as Parliament returns. 

His party majority crumbles with MP Phillip Lee crossing the house to join the Lib Dems. Mr Johnson is the first new Prime Minister to lose his inaugural Common’s Vote since 1793, and twenty of his fellow MPs, including the grandson of Winston Churchill are stripped of the Conservative whip.

Anyone with a glass pressed against the chamber wall, may have been tempted to ring the Met, given what happened last time he was in an confrontation this fierce. 

The authors of this biblical calamity, Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings have no one else to blame but themselves. They have built a house of straw and wood. Little surprise the wolf of reason, understanding the risk of crashing out of the EU without a deal, has huffed and puffed and blown their homes away.

This whole episode is a constant worry for those of us who are trying to sail businesses in a storm, or worried about the security of their jobs.

Politics is supposed to make life better for the people. It does not exist to complicate, frustrate and undermine confidence in consumers and investors.

I can’t imagine betting shops offering attractive odds on today’s vote to extinguish No Deal. The result will be the same as last night’s. 

Until a General Election is announced, and accepted by two thirds of the House, all we can do is lie back, put our feet up and recline like Jacob Rees-Mogg!

Prime Ministers Questions is at 12pm.


Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham @jassansi 07930 837 505


What a Difference a Day Makes.

Boris Johnson is prepared to go cap in hand to the Electorate and ask for their backing. 


Kids are back at school today, so if like me, you’re a busy parent making the transition from lazy summer to hurry up, you’re going to be late, here’s the latest on speed dial; there’s a vote today in the Commons to take No Deal Brexit off the table. 

MPs across the house are expected to vote for No Deal to be taken off the table. Prime Minister Boris ‘The Proroguer’ Johnson will announce a General Election on Wednesday. 

Whether the same MPs who voted against a No Deal will vote for a General Election, depends on whether Election Day is guaranteed to be before 31st October. 

Boris Johnson may well be able to count on one hand, the number of weeks he spent as Prime Minister. 

Conference Season will be right in the middle of the General Election campaign, giving each of the parties a huge media platform to set out their manifestos. 

The Government seem determined to Brexit without a deal. Labour want to negotiate their own deal and put it to the People with Remain on the ballot paper.

Lib Dems want to abandon Brexit and Remain in the EU without a vote. Same with SNP who also want to stay in the EU but not in the UK. 

Brexit Party want to leave the EU, abolish HS2 and bring back hanging. 

PMQs will be interesting tomorrow, I wonder if Mr Corbyn will refer to a letter he has received signed Brenda from Bristol. 


Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham @jassansi 07930 837 505