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Posts Tagged ‘Birmingham City Council

Holidays in Edgbaston

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In February 2014, the Birmingham Mail reported that a Warwickshire cricket club would definitely play in this season’s Twenty20 tournament as the “Birmingham Bears” after the city council confirmed it had no intention of withdrawing its request for them to do so.

But what has the name of a cricket team got to do with Birmingham city council?

[‘Brian Halford: The Birmingham Bears name disrespects the history of Warwickshire CCC’, Birmingham Mail, Nov 29, 2013]

Thanks to Birmingham City Council, Warwickshire have a renewed, well-equipped stadium enabling them to host international cricket for years to come, thus securing their future.

Now, the not-so-good news. Thanks to Birmingham City Council, Warwickshire must play some games next season under a silly name: Birmingham Bears.

[…]
When somebody lends you twenty million smackers at favourable terms there are strings attached.[…]

It’s good that the club owes the council, not a bank. The council have already permitted several repayment holidays and fair play to them for supporting one of the area’s great sporting institutions.

From the Birmingham Mail’s viewpoint, all the fuss is about the name of a cricket club. And not about why a ‘cash strapped’ local authority is acting as banker to a cricket club.

Written by beleben

September 19, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Posted in Birmingham

Tagged with ,

Bus lane enforcement in Birmingham

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From Spring 2013, Birmingham city council will be operating bus lane enforcement in the City Centre, its website announced.

Bus Lane Enforcement
Cross the Line, Pay the Fine

We’ve all experienced the effects of traffic congestion on our roads, especially during peak hours in the City. So that buses can get ahead of traffic queues, bus lanes are provided on many routes.

In order to make sure that bus lanes are as effective as possible in keeping buses running on time, from Spring 2013 Birmingham City Council will be operating bus lane enforcement in the City Centre. We are enforcing bus lanes and bus only streets in the main bus corridors along Lower Bull Street, Moor Street Queensway, Priory Queensway and St Martins Queensway.

This means that if a vehicle is captured by CCTV using a bus lane or bus only street during restricted hours a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) may be issued.

In the future we will extend this across the city, in areas where there is a traffic congestion issue or a problem with bus lane abuse.

Why introduce bus lane enforcement?

There are a number of potential benefits to be gained by ensuring effective bus lane enforcement:

Bus lane enforcement has been operating successfully in London for a number of years. Studies have shown that the number of prohibited vehicles using bus lanes has reduced significantly as a result of enforcement, which has resulted in improved bus reliability, increased road safety and more use of bus lanes by pedal cyclists;

Effective and efficient bus lane enforcement will allow the Council and its partners to achieve easier and more consistent journey times for buses through congested areas by allowing the free flow of bus lane traffic; and

By improving the public transport network we will encourage commuters to choose more environmentally friendly forms of travel and thereby reduce CO2 emissions.

What does a bus lane look like?

Bus lanes are easily identifiable; they are clearly marked with a white line and the words “Bus Lane” will be marked on the road in various places along the lane. There is also a sign before a bus lane begins clearly stating the times of operation.

In Birmingham the operational times will depend on where the bus lane is. These times will be clearly signed.

Along the bus lane there may be sections of broken white lines. These signify an area where it is permitted for vehicles to cross the bus lane, for example, if you need to turn left.

There are signs indicating where a bus lane starts and where it ends and each sign will tell you the operational hours for the lane. If no times are stated, this means that the bus lane is operational 24 hours.

What is a bus only street?

A bus only street is just that. It is a street which only buses are permitted to use. Bus only streets are clearly marked at the entrance to the street with signs showing permitted vehicles and times of operation if applicable.

What vehicles are allowed to use bus lanes and bus only streets?

Permitted vehicles can vary from bus lane to bus lane, so you should check the signs at the start of the lane or bus only street before entering.

In the City Centre where bus lane enforcement is being undertaken by the City Council, only buses, coaches and pedal cycles are permitted to be in all bus lanes and bus only streets. Hackney carriages and motorcycles are permitted in some areas only.

In other parts of the City, bus lanes may be used by buses, coaches, pedal cycles, motor cycles and hackney carriages. Private Hire Vehicles are not permitted to use any bus lanes in Birmingham.

How does enforcement happen?

Closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras will record vehicles driving or parking in bus lanes. Cameras are either mounted on poles on the street or operated from a Birmingham City Council marked CCTV enforcement vehicle.

These cameras record vehicles using the bus lanes during restricted hours, and take a close up image of the vehicle including the registration mark. The camera also tracks the vehicle driving, parking or stopping in the bus lane to provide evidence that a contravention of the restrictions has taken place.

The recordings will be checked by a second enforcement officer, to ensure that an contravention has occurred and that there are no mitigating circumstances, which may have led to the vehicle being in the bus lane.

Once it is confirmed that an contravention has occurred, the registered owner/hirer of the vehicle will then receive a PCN by first class post from Birmingham City Council.

It is the responsibility of each driver to ensure they comply with all traffic signs and regulations; this includes obeying signs and regulations even if a Sat-Nav suggests entering the bus lane or bus only street. Referring to Sat-Navs as a reason for contravening the restrictions will not be accepted.

How much is the fine?

The amount for a Bus Lane PCN is £60, although if payment is made within fourteen days of the date of service (refer to PCN for specific date) the charge will be reduced by 50% to £30.

Can I appeal the fine?

Yes, you can appeal against the fine. Details of how to do this will be included on the PCN.

Reserved lanes can certainly help with bus journey time reliability and transport emissions, but it’s by no means a certain outcome. In Birmingham bus lanes, and red routes, have a somewhat unhappy history, and their current disposition is of dubious value.

The claim that bus lanes ‘will encourage commuters to choose more environmentally friendly forms of travel and thereby reduce CO2 emissions’ doesn’t have a factual basis. Diesel buses are one of the biggest sources of NOx and particulate emissions in Birmingham, and even the CO2 claim is problematic. The only place in Great Britain where buses have a clear-cut advantage in greenhouse gas emissions, is London. Passenger loadings in the capital are much higher than anywhere else.

The environmental justification for hackney carriages being able to use Birmingham bus lanes is non-existent. Per passenger kilometre, black cabs must be worse than private cars in NOx, and CO2.

Written by beleben

March 8, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Posted in Centro

Tagged with ,

Ameyzing rip-off

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Birmingham city council is being charged £2,000 for each tree planted in the city by its highways contractor Amey, reported the Birmingham Mail.

As with the ‘Service Birmingham’ venture, the Amey contract obviously needs to be revisited by a competent legal and financial team. The question is, does Birmingham city council have a competent legal and financial team?

Written by beleben

March 4, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Birmingham city council’s wheeled bin ‘consultation’

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Birmingham city council, wheeled bin consultation 2013

Birmingham city council has launched its online wheelie bin consultation. The consultation questions are reproduced below.

Consultation with householders regarding new wheelie bin services in Birmingham

About this consultation questionnaire

This consultation questionnaire gives you the opportunity to provide your views about Birmingham City Council’s proposed changes to the domestic recycling and rubbish collection service. You can read full details below and on the following pages. There is space at the end of the questionnaire to let us have your further comments on any issues in this questionnaire or any other general points that you wish to make about the Council’s wheelie bin proposals.

Alternatively, copies of the questionnaire are available from local Libraries and Customer Service Centres.

The consultation questionnaire may be completed by residents aged 16 or over. This consultation will remain open until the 31st of May 2013; however an interim report based on all responses received by the end of March 2013 will be produced.

All completed questionnaires will be processed by Opinion Research Services (ORS), an independent research company. Your views will be treated as confidential, will be stored in accordance with the Data Protection Act and only the ORS research team will see your questionnaire. All views will always remain anonymous and the data will not be used to determine future services for individual households.

Individual households will be contacted prior to the roll-out of wheelie bins in their area.

Recycling and rubbish in Birmingham

Birmingham City Council collects about 400,000 tonnes of household rubbish each year costing around £60 million in collection and disposal charges, including Government Landfill Tax of up to £80 per tonne. Our costs are simply too high and the Council can no longer afford to carry on collecting and disposing of rubbish as we currently do.

Although we have increased our recycling performance over the last few years, Birmingham is in the bottom 25% of all Local Authorities for low recycling performance and on average, we produce more rubbish per household than any of the other major cities in the UK.

As proved in other cities throughout the UK, we will be able to reduce costs by reducing the amount of rubbish that we need to dispose of and increasing the amount that we recycle.

The Council has therefore decided to change the way that recycling and rubbish is collected in Birmingham and to adopt a wheelie bin collection service. This is not unique to Birmingham as 82% of all English Councils already use wheelie bins, recognising the additional benefits of increased cleanliness in local neighbourhoods by avoiding the problems that many residents experience with sacks being torn open by pests or recyclables blowing down the street on a windy day.

Government funding

The Council has recently been awarded additional funding of nearly £30 million to implement the wheelie bin scheme. This money will help to pay for the wheelie bins and the vehicles needed to empty them. In return, the Council will continue to maintain a weekly collection of rubbish.


Age Confirmation

Are you aged 16 or over?

Choose one of the following answers

Yes
No


Details of proposed scheme

Our plan is to provide households with increased storage capacity by using 2 wheelie bins, as follows:

1. Recycling – fortnightly collection using a 240 litre wheelie bin with a pod to separate the paper and card from the mixed materials (cans, glass and plastic bottles). The wheelie bin is 107cm high and takes up a ground space of 58cm X 74cm.

2. Rubbish – weekly collection using a 180 litre wheelie bin (equivalent to 2-3 black bags). The wheelie bin is 107cm high and takes up a ground space of 48cm X 74cm.

By way of comparison, a typical recycling box is around 50 litres capacity and a rubbish collection sack holds a maximum of 80 litres.

Green garden waste collections will continue as a sack collection service in 2013. This and other changes to waste management services are being consulted on separately and further information will be published in due course.

The Council recognises that not all properties are suitable for wheelie bin collections and that some larger and smaller households will have different requirements. In these circumstances, the Council would make alternative arrangements. Larger rubbish bins (240 litres) will be available for larger households and there is a smaller version of the recycling bin (140 litres) for smaller households who won’t need the standard 240 litre recycling bin.

The Council also recognises that some residents would find it difficult to move a wheelie bin and we would propose to make alternative arrangements either through the provision of an ‘assisted’ service or by providing a different type of collection service that meets the households’ needs.

As part of the roll-out phase, pilot projects will take place from May 2013 in the Brandwood and Harborne wards. All properties in these two wards will be individually assessed to determine their suitability for a wheelie bin collection service. Residents will be notified of this assessment and we will invite residents to tell us of any particular issues that would make this service impractical for their particular household, or to let us know that they have a larger household or perhaps would prefer to have the smaller recycling bin.

Council staff will also be available in the neighbourhood, and by phone to discuss any particular problems or issues that might arise so that we can make sure that the new services work for everybody.


Attitudes to recycling and rewards

Birmingham City Council is planning to introduce wheelie bins for most households to reduce rubbish and to reduce costs. Please let us know your views about some important aspects of the scheme. The Council values your opinions and wants to know your views on these proposals.


Attitudes to recycling and rewards

Which of the following statements do you feel best describes your household?

Choose one of the following answers

We recycle as much as we possibly can
We recycle a lot but not everything that can be recycled in Birmingham
We do not recycle much
We do not recycle anything
Don’t Know


Attitudes to recycling and rewards

The Council ran a pilot in 2012 to test a Recycling Reward Programme. This proved popular with residents who participated and recycling rates went up.

If the Council introduced a Recycling Reward Scheme across the City, what type of rewards would you like to receive?

Check any that apply

Points that can be used for discounts at local or national businesses
Points that can be used to get discounts for Council services
Points to donate to charitable causes
Points to donate to local projects such as schools/new community buildings
Not interested in rewards
Don’t know
Other – please specify


About you

Are your day-to-day activities limited because of a health problem or disability which has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months?

Choose one of the following answers

Yes, limited a lot
Yes, limited a little
No
Prefer not to say


About you

What is your ethnic group?

Choose one of the following answers

White – English/Welsh/Scottish/Northern Irish/British
White – Irish
White – Gypsy or Irish Traveller
White – Any other White background
Black/African/Caribbean/Black British – African
Black/African/Caribbean/Black British – Caribbean
Any other Black/African/Caribbean background
Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups – Asian and White
Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups – Black African and White
Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups – Black Caribbean and White
Any other Mixed/Multiple ethnic background
Asian/Asian British – Bangladeshi
Asian/Asian British – Chinese
Asian/Asian British – Indian Sikh
Asian/Asian British – Indian Other
Asian/Asian British -Pakistani
Any other Asian background
Other ethnic group – Arab
Other ethnic group – Jewish
Any other ethnic group
Prefer not to say


About you

Which of the following most accurately describes your sexual orientation?

Choose one of the following answers

Bisexual
Gay man
Gay woman/lesbian
Heterosexual/straight
Other
Prefer not to say


About you

What is your religion? (Even if you are not practising)

Choose one of the following answers

Christian (Catholic, Church of England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, other Protestant, Orthodox and all other denominations)
Buddhist
Hindu
Jewish
Muslim
Sikh
Other religion / faith (Please specify)
No religion
Prefer not to say


About you

What is your full home postcode?

Please note that this information will only be used to analyse responses at an appropriate geographic level to inform the provision of our local services. Your full postcode will not be passed on to the council.

Please check the format of your answer.


Being kept informed about changes to your waste collection service

If you would like the Council to keep you informed by email about changes to your waste
collection service please provide your email address below (this will be passed to Birmingham City Council, separately from the results of the survey). They will store it in accordance with the Data Protection Act and will never share it with any other parties.

Please check the format of your answer.


Thank You

Thank you very much for taking the time to complete this questionnaire. In order to save and submit your answers please click on the ‘submit’ button below.

Please note that once you have clicked on the ‘submit’ button there is no further opportunity to review or change your answers.


Written by beleben

February 25, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Birmingham city bus stop overloading, part three

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Part two | Part one

Planning mistakes in the Birmingham Bull Ring redevelopment led to privatisation of public space, and a deterioration in walkability

Centro’s Birmingham City Centre bus Statutory Quality Partnership Scheme (SQPS) has fomented disconnectivity and bus stop overloading.

[Centro summary of the Statutory Quality Partnership Scheme, Version: QPS summary v2]
Statutory Quality Partnership Scheme

Bus and Highways Facilities in Birmingham City Centre and its environs

SCHEME SUMMARY

1.1 Centro and Birmingham City Council (BCC) are investing around £15 million in improvements to passenger facilities and highway infrastructure in Birmingham city centre, in advance of the construction of the extension of Midland Metro from Snow Hill station to New Street station via Upper Bull Street and Corporation Street.

1.2 To support this investment and ensure that bus operators using the improved facilities deliver a high standard of service, Centro and BCC have introduced a statutory Quality Partnership Scheme (QPS) that covers all local bus services using stops in the city centre area. A QPS for the city centre is considered to be the most appropriate way forward. The agreement will support the delivery of several aims for improving the quality and management of the city centre, including: to provide a better quality of service for bus passengers; an improved standard of public transport infrastructure; to provide stability for the bus network during Midland Metro and New Street Gateway construction programmes; to address bus-related aspects of wider air quality problems; to equitably manage available kerb space; and to protect partners’ investment in public transport.

1.3 To encourage further investment in the bus network, the QPS introduces a series of regulations governing how bus services operate in the city centre, requires improvements in vehicle quality, seeks to address air quality issues and promotes a better image of public transport to attract additional users.

1.4 The Scheme Area covers 90 bus stops/stands and shelters within Birmingham City Centre, as shown overleaf.

1.5 The Scheme will be introduced on completion of the main phase of highway works in the city centre, on 22nd July 2012, and will operate for an initial period of 10 years, until 9th July 2022.

Centro's Birmingham bus Statutory Quality Partnership area

1.6 A primary bus stop is one at which a bus will be able to wait for up to five minutes, and will generally be the main terminus point for a service in the city centre. Secondary stops are the pick-up/set-down stops used by services on their way into, and out of, the city centre.

1.7 In order to ensure that the primary bus stops don’t become too congested, a limit has been set on the number of buses using each primary stop. This will provide buses with longer time at their primary stop, providing greater scope for buses to leave the city centre on time, thereby improving service reliability.

1.8 The requirements of the Scheme will apply to all registered local bus services using bus stops within the Scheme Area. It does not apply to schools services, Ring & Ride services, scheduled long-distance coach services or tours, services operated using heritage vehicles, rail or Midland Metro replacement services or services operated by Community Transport organisations.

1.9 Coaches are still allowed within the scheme area. However, as the scheme restricts the use of all bus stops and bus stands to local services only, coaches are not permitted to use them. Boarding and alighting of passengers can still be carried out on single or double yellow lines, providing the driver is not causing an obstruction. However once the passengers are off the coach it must then move off. Existing on-street short-stay coach spaces have been retained, a few additional spaces have been provided and longer-stay coach parking is available at the Brewery Street facility.

1.10 Registered local services are required to meet certain criteria, in order to be granted permission to use the city centre bus stops. These criteria will require that: the vehicles used are low-floor, easy access, and comply with all Equality legislation requirements by 2016 all buses are fitted with electronic number and destination displays to front, side and rear drivers shall drive in a safe, courteous and professional manner, wear a uniform and that a driver training programme be in place including diversity/disability awareness training drivers will be required to assist passengers in wheelchairs by lifting or deploying ramps all operators offer ticketing product(s) that permit passengers to interchange between services without the payment of a separate fare.

1.11 In order to address air quality problems that are currently experienced in certain areas of the city centre, and the requirements of the Air Quality Action Plan adopted in early 2011, buses will have to comply with stringent emissions standards. From 6th January 2013, as a minimum all buses will have meet Euro 2 standards, with those used on services operating every 20 minutes or better (three or more buses per hour) having to meet the Euro 3 standards. Starting on 3rd January 2016 and concluding by 28th May 2017, all buses operating services every 20 minutes or better will have to be to Euro 4 standards as a minimum, with Euro 3 for services operating fewer than three buses per hour; the phasing depends on whether a vehicle is single- or double-deck.

1.12 For its part, Centro agrees to maintain all the new passenger facilities to set standards, including displaying up-to-date timetables at each stop, the provision of Real Time Information displays at most stops and the regular cleaning of the bus shelters and stop poles/totems. Centro will also manage the use of bus stops within the Scheme area, to ensure that no stop becomes congested.

1.13 Birmingham City Council has agreed to maintain the highway infrastructure to set standards, and will also monitor and enforce bus lanes through the use of CCTV camera systems and address illegal parking on bus stops under its civil parking enforcement powers.

 

Has Centro managed “the use of bus stops within the Scheme area, to ensure that no stop becomes congested”?

Written by beleben

December 30, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Birmingham budget blur

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Albert Bore blurBirmingham city council leader Sir Albert Bore has described a growing gap between the council’s income and demand for its services as the ‘jaws of doom’, and warned that it would have to decommission entire activity areas over the next few years.

But as the Birmingham Post’s Neil Elkes reported on 14 December, the proposed 2013 – 2014 budget has continued with ‘salami slicing’ across services to achieve a £110 million spending cut.

The council has opened a budget 2013+ ‘consultation process‘, open until 6 January 2013. However, the 56-page ‘Business Plan and Budget 2013+ Have Your Say’ document, produced to support the consultation, provides little detail on how money is spent.

[The Budget Consultation] has been launched against a backdrop of greater than previously notified grant reduction from national government and at the same time the council needs to pay for unavoidable cost increases. The combined impact of these grant reductions and cost increases means the council is having to make cuts of over £600m over the six years 2011/12 to 2016/17.
[…]
Directorate Consultation

Some of the council’s departments are carrying out additional consultation on their specific proposals. Please click [https://www.birminghambeheard.org.uk/ConsultationDetail.aspx?consultationid=1488] for the Development and Culture consultation.

This month, the council held four budget public meetings, where the panel was made up only of Sir Albert and members of his Labour group.

Birmingham city council budget views public meeting, 18 December 2012

At yesterday’s well-attended final meeting at Birmingham council house, members of the audience questioned whether Sir Albert should be both chairman and main speaker, and expressed doubt about whether the consultation was genuine. There was criticism of the top-down nature of the budget-setting process, as well as calls for the council to set a Derek Hatton-style deficit budget. How representative the audience was of Birmingham’s wider population, is difficult to gauge.

Audience members at the Birmingham city council budget views public meeting, 18 December 2012

Written by beleben

December 19, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Finding different ways

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Earlier this year, in the run-up to the vote on an elected mayor in Birmingham, there was discussion about the city council expanding its activities, and taking more powers from central government. But reality has powerful jaws and very sharp teeth, and now the council is looking at decommissioning entire services to make £600 million of savings by 2017, reported BBC News today (23 October 2012).

Cuts of £62 [million] to the Labour-run authority’s 2012-13 budget were voted for in February with warnings that 1,100 jobs could go.

Council leader Sir Albert Bore said some services would have to be “decommissioned” completely.
[…]

Sir Albert warned the authority could face an additional £60 [million] to £70 [million] of cuts on top of the £120 [million] for 2013 – 2014, depending on reductions in direct government grants.

He blamed successive cuts in government grants for the council’s “horrendous” financial situation, which he said had not taken into account population changes, inflation and other costs.

The leader said the government had banned authorities from raising council tax by more than 1.6% without holding a referendum among voters about whether they would be prepared to pay more. He refused to rule that out as a possibility.

Sir Albert said: “This is the end of local government as we have known it.

“But this is not the end of local government completely.

“It needs to be inventive, it needs to find new ways to work with partners like public agencies, schools and the business community to find different ways to do this.”
[…]
The council said it would be holding several public meetings from next month over which services should go.

The problem with ‘consultation’ (compared with say, a referendum), is that vested interests could spin the ‘findings’ in whatever way suited their agenda. Furthermore, most citizens have no idea what individual council services cost per capita. In fact, from councillor Bore’s live webchat this evening, it appears that the authority itself doesn’t have that information, and is yet to fully identify which activities are statutory. (Rudimentary high-level comparisons of service costs have been made by local authorities for years, but nowhere near detailed enough for the purpose of managing expenditure.)

A lot of the webchat questions seem to come from staff of the council and its associated bodies, such as the Connexions careers service. Apparently, schools are choosing not to contract with Connexions to provide careers advice, but again, it’s not clear how efficient or cost-effective Connexions is, or why Birmingham council should be involved with dictating who should be providing non-statutory careers advice.

A few weeks ago, Birmingham hosted the Conservative party conference — which cost the city hundreds of thousands of pounds. The Chamberlain Files reported that councillor Bore doubted whether subsidising political conferences was cost-effective. While evidence of general economic benefit from them is very thin, it’s likely that vested interests, such as the council’s Marketing Birmingham affiliate, are pushing very hard for continued subsidy of such events.

Since relocating there in 1990, Birmingham Royal Ballet has received millions in council cash, yet it does not even perform one full free show a year in the city. Its public performance, at Artsfest, has amounted to about 15 minutes in the last two years. So Birmingham council might want to look at ensuring at least one free-to-the-public full production a year is included in future funding contracts.

Written by beleben

October 23, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Paradise lost

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No paradise: generic office buildingsWith the construction of Birmingham’s Inner Ring Road (Queensway) in the 1960s and 1970s, the area around Baskerville House in the city centre was altered beyond recognition. At some point in the early 1970s, the original plans to redevelop the Paradise Circus area were abandoned, and after the completion of John Madin’s Central Library, building work stopped.

Within a few years, the city council was deprecating its own masterplan, and describing the Inner Ring Road as a “concrete collar“. When Centenary Square was chosen as the site for a new central library — Francine Houben’s Library of Birmingham — it was claimed that the Madin library at Paradise Circus was structurally unsound. By demolishing it, the city centre could be transformed, with the creation of new vistas from Centenary Square to the council house and town hall.

I never bought the spin that the Madin library was structurally unsound, or that its demolition was intended to improve the urban environment or accessibility of the city centre. It always seemed much more likely that the site of the library complex was earmarked for whatever redevelopment would generate the most rent and rate income, i.e. lowest common denominator office/hotel/retail development.

In July 2011, the Birmingham Post reported that the city’s debts had doubled as a result of projects such as the Houben library and Birmingham Gateway. No other major English city has higher per capita borrowing.

Birmingham council and Argent (the developer of Brindleyplace) own large parts of Paradise Circus, and signed a two year exclusivity agreement in February 2009 “to prepare the way for the potential redevelopment” of the site. So, last week, it was not too surprising to find what the council had in mind: a collection of closely spaced generic office buildings, to maximise rental and rates income.

One of the major costs for the project will be the massive infrastructure investment and it is hoped that this will be funded through tax increment financing or TIFs. This effectively allows the project – which is being supported by the city council as a major landowner on the site – to borrow against the future business rates that would be raised by the scheme.

At the moment the site raises £1.5 million every year in business rates but the completed project would see this rise to around £20 million a year. The scheme will also be enhanced by falling within a proposed enterprise zone which offers various relief from tax and regulation.
[…]
The project is being led by Gary Taylor, a former managing director of Argent who recently launched his own development company called Altitude, as well as Argent project director Rob Groves, both of whom are quite clear about the challenges the site offers, both technically and reputationally.

Surely, if reputation were a key issue, Argent would not have put forward such a cynical proposal. Judging by plans put forward by other developers to create 21st century slums at Icknield Port, the crevice between aspiration and reality is turning into a chasm.

At the time of writing, the Paradise Circus development website states that the ‘recently extended’ February 2009 exclusivity agreement “binds the City Council and Argent to agree to negotiate solely with each other and not involve other parties”. Which is curious, because Altitude Real Estate LLP, established in 2011, appears to be a new party in the situation. According to Altitude’s website, its (ex-Argent) directors Gary Taylor and Stephen Tillman

will take forward Argent’s existing schemes at Paradise Circus in Birmingham and Ffos-y-Fran in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, fully supported by Argent which will retain a part ownership in both schemes. They have secured options to fully acquire Argent’s interest in Paradise Circus and also on assets in Argent’s residential land business which was set up by Tillman and colleague Robert Bolton.

Written by beleben

February 27, 2012 at 4:31 pm