Examination of Witnesses (Questions 160
WEDNESDAY 15 NOVEMBER 2000
160. Councillor Crawford, do you have anything
to add to that?
(Cllr Crawford) Yes, Chairman. One of the obstacles
we found was private sector understanding of what we were trying
to do, it was very much a mixture of capital projects, so they
understood bricks and mortar, but it was the social side of it,
the training element, the involvement, the social inclusion, which
was, in the first instance, very difficult for the private sector
to sort of get their heads round, if you like. And so, if you
ask me how we would look back and do it differently, I think it
would be taking more time to involve and explain to particularly
the private sector partners. Three years into an SRB programme,
everybody is on board and understands; the first year was exceptionally
161. Would you think that was the only mistake
that you made?
(Cllr Crawford) I think that the forming of the partnership
would be more on a formal footing now; when we first pulled it
together it was a very informal partnership to try to involve
everybody. I think that, in doing that, we had some partners that
signed up to it on paper, but not in their heart, if you know
what I mean.
162. And you think the sort of formal structure
would have dealt with that?
(Cllr Crawford) Very much so. I think it would have
focused their minds very much, yes.
163. Any particular mistakes that Birmingham
made; perish the thought?
(Cllr Stacey) I think we try to learn from any mistakes
we make very quickly and build them into good working practice.
164. That is a tactful answer, Councillor Stacey,
but it was not what I asked you: what did you do wrong?
(Cllr Stacey) I am trying to think of an example.
165. We can take it you did not do anything
(Cllr Stacey) No; sometimes we underestimated what
we could possibly achieve. And, looking back, we might have been
more ambitious at some of the early schemes; and where subsequently
we were able to achieve, through planning agreements, through
good design practice, and so on, some very good developments in
themselves and what they contributed to the public realm, early
on, we might have been a little timid.
166. Councillor Stacey, the Lichfield and Hatherton
Canal, what is the view of the Birmingham City Council about the
restoration of that canal?
(Cllr Stacey) We want to see those restored, and I
suppose behind that question is the issue of the BNRR; and we
167. The Birmingham Northern Relief Road.
(Cllr Stacey) Sorry; the Birmingham Northern Relief
Road, in West Midlands speak.
168. You must take pity on us, Mr Stacey; we
do not all have the advantage of being from Birmingham.
(Cllr Stacey) Second only in its strategic importance
in the country to Crewe, I understand.
169. Yes; you may now continue. I can see you
are a man of great intelligence.
(Cllr Stacey) We very strongly support trying to take
the opportunity to restore the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals,
because they are part of, or could become part, another part,
of the very important canals network in the West Midlands, and
what that can achieve for regeneration in our region generally.
170. That view from the City Council, has that
been reflected to the Department of the Environment, Transport
and the Regions?
(Cllr Stacey) I understand it has; it may not have
been directly, it may have been throughwe have a sub-regional
co-ordinating body, which has a very long title, which co-ordinates
the seven metropolitan districts on planning and transportation
issues, which I happen to chair. And I know that we have expressed
the view, from that, so we may have done it collectively, as the
metropolitan districts, not singly.
171. But the weight of Birmingham City Council
behind such a representation would be very strong, one would assume,
if the Birmingham City Council say "We want to see this road
so constructed to allow the canal to have a use." Would it
be in the best interests of the Canal Trust and Birmingham City
Council to say, "We want to see this canal restored, so it
can be used"?
(Cllr Stacey) I would like to think we would have
some influence, and I shall make sure that we reiterate that view.
I know I have personally raised it in my regional role. I was
last year chair of the regional planning body with Lord Whitty,
so I have personally tried to advance that cause, but I will go
back and make sure we have done all we could do, as Birmingham.
172. Thank you. Can I ask both of you, what
role, if any, are your respective Regional Development Agencies
playing in relation to the waterways; can they do better?
(Cllr Crawford) Previously to East Midlands Development
Agency, English Partnerships actually part-funded the development
of the Kiln Warehouse, which is now the headquarters of British
Waterways in Newark. Obviously, the East Midlands Development
Agency took over a lot of the responsibilities from English Partnerships,
and more recently have been very active in working with us in
the redevelopment of a brewery, and we are looking at the reallocation
of a scrap-yard. Unfortunately, we suffer from, as most riversides
have suffered, industry turned their back on the river for quite
some time, and we have ended up with scrap-yards and redundant
buildings that EMDA are looking to work with us. One of the problems
that we do have is that, to try to work with British Waterways,
we would like a better definition of whether British Waterways
is a public body or not, so that we could use PIP funding on the
riverside; so it would be the Partnership Investment Programme
funding that we could use, I understand, if it were a public body,
and that would enable us to engage with EMDA a lot more.
173. In your evidence, you advise us of a 160-berth
marina that has been developed with the aid of Woolworths; that
marina, you say, is there to attract tourism. Have you boating
clubs that are using the marina?
(Cllr Crawford) The marina is not actually finished,
it is still being dug out; it is full, because of the floods,
but it should be still being dug out. But we do have very active
boating clubs, and we do have a lot of tourism from the river;
in fact, the festival that we mentioned, a lot of the people that
attended the festival actually came by boat and barge.
174. And what support do the boating clubs get
from the local authority?
(Cllr Crawford) We support them in every way that
175. Birmingham; is the Development Agency helping
with the restoration and development of the waterside in your
(Cllr Stacey) We have just signed a partnership for
Single Regeneration Budget Round Six area, in part of North West
Birmingham, actually called Corridors of Regeneration, which recognises
the canal within that area as a very important part of that regeneration
area, with a very great opportunity there to expand the work we
have done elsewhere, to build on the work we have done elsewhere
in the City, and that is where the Advantage West Midlands are
now becoming involved in these issues. I think one of the advantages
we have had in Birmingham, in the past, is being large enough
to do a lot of the things that perhaps for other authorities requires
a body of the size of an RDA to actually assist them to do; because
we have had the critical mass, we have been able to do a lot of
those things ourselves, but we now welcome the involvement of
the RDA in taking over and assisting with some of those issues.
176. What did you mean exactly, Mr Crawford,
when you said about the clarification of British Waterways Board
not being a public body?
(Cllr Crawford) It is my understanding, Chairman,
that if we want to use the Partnership Investment Programme we
can use that where a public body, with a public body in partnership,
develops a specific project, and it is my understanding that we
do need a definition that British Waterways is a public body before
we can actually access that sort of funding. I do not know whether
Richard Dix wants to comment.
(Mr Dix) Madam Chairman, I think there is some doubt
at present, with regard to European funding issues, as to whether
or not the Europeans will accept British Waterways as a public
Chairman: I see; so it is not that we are confused,
but, as usual, other people are.
177. The whole scheme has been virtually kicked
into touch, has it not, by the European Commission?
(Cllr Crawford) Exactly.
178. So is this a separate issue from the future
of the whole scheme?
(Cllr Crawford) Basically, it is what the East Midlands
Development Agency has said, if they could get a definition then
they could have access to that funding.
(Mr Dix) Certainty will free up the funding, as we
Mr Brake: Both Birmingham and Newark and Sherwood,
you have mentioned your vision, but neither of you have told us
what your vision was; could you tell us, very briefly, what it
was and whether you have actually achieved it, or whether perhaps
it has changed, evolved, from your original starting-point?
179. Yes; since you have supplied us with lots
of information, briefly, I think, is the relevant word.
(Cllr Stacey) I think I would refer you to the information,
and say that there are layers, there was an overall vision of
what canal investment could do, in terms of kick-starting regeneration,
and in terms actually of carrying that through then area-wide
frameworks, site-specific development briefs. In terms of Brindleyplace,
the master plan, which we think was a very important way of making
sure that there was the framework there for the private sector
to come into, and that did change, the original master plan for
Brindleyplace was that housing would be scattered throughout the
site. The developers came in, gave their view that it would be
better on the site, and we worked to change the master plan; but
they could not just do that, the master plan had to be changed
to make sure all the things that we wanted delivered would be
delivered. So it is having those different layers of vision, from
city-wide to area-wide, to site-specific.
(Cllr Crawford) Our vision very much for the riverside,
I mentioned businesses had turned their back on the rivers, is
to make the riverside the window to the town of Newark. We have
a very historic town there, with a historic market-place, we get
a lot of tourism, so it was very much about reinvigorating the
business community and encouraging them to be involved, providing
a lot more leisure facilities for the community of Newark and
encouraging more tourism to bolster the economy of the town of