Market trader Bernice Ellis of the Open Market Association, who insists that it is essential for the wholesale markets to remain on the Bull Ring site, wrote on Tuesday: 

bernice and carol2We attended a meeting today with Councillor Ian Ward. It had been announced to us, before the cabinet report and recommendations became public on Friday, that the officers are recommending the cabinet to take forward only two of the five options we have been consulting on: Washwood Heath and Witton. When we asked if there was any flexibility we were told no. However, the Washwood Heath site is earmarked for the HS2, so the reality is that only one option is really on the table and that’s Witton.

The remaining three options to remain in site are not financially viable – or so they say. But any financial viability test will include the theoretical sum of money which the council believe the land is worth. Last figure bounced about was £240 million a few years ago. So the figures to stay on site will never stack up done like this.

The following thoughts about the figures are for illustration as we have not been allowed to see the actual facts and figures

The cost of remaining on the current site will never be right because of the way the council uses ‘asset recharge’. In other words that means that the theoretical value of the current site is being charged against the development. So if in theory the land is valued at £240m as it was a few years ago, that loss will be charged against the development.

This is underhanded local authority accounting, with no accountability. And then against the bottom line, year on year, will be the land depreciation charge of 10%, so on the first day of trading the market will be running at a theoretical loss of £264 MILLION plus building costs.

The cabinet are expected to rubber stamp these recommendations on 25th March. But Ian Ward made a press release immediately after our meeting – why?