canary wharf

Cllr John Clancy asked this question in response to the latest ambitious proposal by the city council and Local Enterprise Partnership: to create an equivalent to Canary Wharf in Snow Hill.

He pointed out that Canary Wharf is a powerful symbol of the entity that laid waste to the UK economy, leading to financial chaos, bailouts, public sector services culls – and which is still supported by taxpayers to the tune of £123bn.

As Cllr Clancy says, it is the the ‘ultimate irony’ to reward the authors of financial collapse with big construction, big property and big offices, enabling them to ’inflate the bubble’ again.

The vice-chairman of the WM New Economics Group comments: “It has taken centuries to make Frankfurt, London and Zurich what they are. Financial centres cannot be ‘replicated’ just by constructing a few fancy buildings. The people of Birmingham are tired of ‘big talk’ from a council in special measures – in all but name.

John Clancy offers another model:

digbeth street scene

“Digbeth is, to my mind, the real microcosm that deserves attention. Its development has been inspirational and can become a pattern for the rest of the city.

“Many would say it developed organically in spite of, rather than because of, the intentions of the city’s ‘powers that be’.

“It shows a real energy and creative drive. It shows what can happen when you build on the real strengths and lively energies of this young city of the 21st Century”.

The rewiring of the city’s economic life

Cllr Clancy believes this will not come from ‘the dead hand of Canary Wharf casino financial services’, but from new industries: food, tech, 3D printing, digital media and entertainment, online retail, fashion, art, jewellery, small-scale sustainable manufacturing and curated commerce – creating unique product lines not offered by other online retailers.

The talent pool for this, he adds, is more suited to this city and the training and education pathways can be prepared to support it.