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Barbara’s Blog

CONSULTED? OR INSULTED?

22-09-2008

The Stirrer recently drew attention to a “consultation process” for new housing in Birmingham, which amounted to “50,000 homes or 65,000 homes – which is it to be?” Now Barbara Panvel uncovers another example of citizens wasting their time by getting involved.

A communal garden for local families and people shopping in the Ladypool Road area . . .

Bench

Relocating Thomas Attwood’s statue there – with Carl Chinn’s offer to meet local people - especially children - to tell them about Thomas Attwood’s work and values . . .

A Heritage Trail, offered by Patrick Baird, Head of Archives and Heritage at the Central Library, who specialises in the history and development of the city, attracting people to the Balti Quarter . . .

These are proposals discussed at meetings convened by Alderman Redmond and attended by some members of the Thomas Attwood Society and several council officers from the planning, conservation, regeneration and heritage protection departments.

A member of the Ladypool Traders Association who attended one meeting preferred the site opposite and said in this location the project would be welcomed by all.

Interest grew and others agreed to help: an active young environmentalist, a noted urban designer and architect, the chairman of the Central Mosque, the director of the Aston Reinvestment Trust and – travelling from Surrey - a close friend of Mohammed Yunus, the Grameen's founder. Their thinking has added an economic regeneration element to the social, cultural and environmental focus of the project.

All were invited to the next meeting, on the 18th September at the Southside Business Centre in Ladypool Road.

However, four working days before the 18th September, a council officer emailed to say that other officials had been consulted “both of whom are of the view that the most appropriate location for the Thomas Attwood statue would be within Attwood Green . . .

"Clearly, it would now appear that our proposed meeting on 18th with the traders and residents from Ladypool Road area would no longer be either necessary or appropriate, and as such I am proposing that we cancel this meeting".

What is the reason for this sudden and discourteous rejection of a project sympathetically presented, with careful attention to detail, by a Regeneration officer at a meeting in the Council House on 18th January this year and agreed in writing by Chris Rice [Museums & Art Galleries]?

Will it be reconsidered?

If not, such an outcome will warn members of the public to find more fruitful ways of spending time than attending ‘consultations’ with council officers, after which agreements and negotiations are summarily overturned.

Also see “Choice Words For Brum’s Housing Future"

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