A conversation between a local academic and his friend – a CEO in local government elsewhere – raised further questions about the wholesale markets closure

“There is a long history to this but why won’t the Council release the financial figures as they could use these to defend their unpopular position? It’s very odd and likely to promote conspiracy theories and speculation about corruption.

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“Can these figures be required of the Council under the Freedom of Information Act?

“If a report is going to the council on March 25 it must be circulated, perhaps 7 days in advance and be publicly available, unless it is an exempt item (and this must meet strict criteria).

“Is the council actually making monies on this market? If not then they will see it as revenue expenditure they wish to eradicate. The only rationale for closing the markets appears to be the economic situation in the council – a circumstance created by central government. Birmingham City Council is in a perilous financial situation so the suspicion is that this decision is part of a financial strategy to raise monies through disposal of assets to fund expenditure like redundancies.

Any new development should be subject to a proper planning application – not one of Birmingham’s strong points

big city planA further point made is that the involvement and, if possible, support of the Local Economic Partnership could be quite important.  Has this matter been placed on their formal agenda? The Council would not look good if it acted deliberately against the wishes of the LEP. In its Big City Plan (June 2012) LEP proposes “to facilitate the delivery of other sites, such as the redevelopment of the wholesale markets”

“Not our business,” says the LEP and the council leadership, according to Cllr Clancy

B & S LEP logo“The LEP and the Enterprise zone”, he asserts, “should have had the vision to see the city’s markets as key to the future and planned for massive investment in the quarter; to create a space and a place there where the city comes to meet around a thriving, exciting food and restaurant hub”.

But the council ‘on behalf of the government’s LEP’ has borrowed – and risked – £125 million to develop infrastructure and buildings in the heart of the city  – mainly office buildings.