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CAN YOU DIG IT?

08-02-2010

Birmingham Council’s spin department has moved into overdrive with a new publication delivered with local newspapers called Soul Of The City. Remarkably, it fails to document the local authority’s shameful role in trying to suck the soul from the city, and close down some of the region’s funkiest nightlife.

Sponsored by the Council’s Regeneration Department, the 20 page freebie highlights development opportunities in the area, and focuses on businesses in the digital and educational areas – seen as the key to future growth.

But what about the conflict between residents in the new apartments Regeneration is trying to attract and the existing pubs and clubs that have done so much to give Digbeth its identity?

As we’ve chronicled extensively on this website, officials in the Council’s licensing department have waged war against a series of popular venues when they’ve come into conflict with new developments – as the licensees at The Spotted Dog, The Rainbow and The Nightingale will all testify.

Suffice to say, none of this rates a mention in the paper, even though it's clearly the key to whether the area retains the "soul" the Council is keen to trumpet.

The supplement is put out under the banner of consultant Michael Parkinson’s Big City Plan, which emphasised the value to Birmingham of Digbeth, and the rare opportunity it offered Birmingham to develop beyond chainstores and theme pubs.

Quite right – but that will only happen if city officials go with the grain, and protect what’s already special about the area, rather than trying to destroy it.

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