Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 155 - 159)




  155. Good morning to you, gentlemen. I am very grateful to you for coming. May I ask you to identify yourselves?
  (Cllr Stacey) Councillor Stewart Stacey, from Birmingham City Council.

  (Cllr Crawford) Councillor Stan Crawford, from Newark & Sherwood District Council.
  (Mr Dix) I am Richard Dix, from Newark & Sherwood District Council.

  156. Could I perhaps tell you one or two of the ground rules. If you agree with one another, perhaps you would be kind enough not to repeat what the other witness has said; and if you would remember that the microphones that are in front of you are a snare and a delusion, because although they record your voices they do not project your voices, so we need rather a lot of general projection. I should ask you, first, did you want to make any general comments, before you began?
  (Cllr Stacey) No.

  157. You are quite happy to go straight to questions; good. Then I would like you both, if I may, to answer what are the key determinants of the success of urban regeneration along waterways?
  (Cllr Stacey) I think the experience in Birmingham has been that a shared vision and the use of the tools to carry that through, particularly planning tools, and also, in Birmingham's case, some land assembly tools. But it has been setting out on a path with a view to knowing where we were going, what the sort of thing was we wanted to achieve, putting in place the planning frameworks to steer, and remind us, from time to time, exactly what it is we are doing, so we do not wander off in odd directions; and then having the determination to see that through.
  (Cllr Crawford) Similarly, Chairman, vision, planning, but, more particularly in our case, the opportunity to access funding; our particular area around Newark does not benefit from European funding, although the other part of the District does. So it was very much a case of access through seeing a regeneration budget that pulled together a cohesive partnership.

  158. Can you tell us of any particular lesson either of you have learned from the experiences?
  (Cllr Stacey) If I can follow up just on the funding one, that has been an important issue. What we were able to do, many years ago now, because we had a set plan, a strategy, that we wanted to do, we set out by actually improving the canal infrastructure itself, the towpaths, access, signage, and so on, and we were able to do that because we had the schemes ready to go to access funding, the old Inner-City Partnership Programme funding, quite often mopping up other people's underspend at the end of the year. So it was sort of opportunism, but strategic opportunism, not thinking of the scheme when the funding became available.

  159. Responsible opportunism, perhaps?
  (Cllr Stacey) Absolutely; we like to think so. And that is the lesson, that if you know what you want to do to start with you can respond to those opportunities. Similarly in partnership with the private sector. As developers came along, encouraged by what we were doing, because we already knew what it was we wanted them to do, we were able to guide them and work in partnership with them to achieve a common aim. And, indeed, the public sector, both ourselves and, indeed, our partners in British Waterways, were able to add value to what the private sector were doing by actually having that vision there to share with them and pull them along into.

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