‘Pie in sky’ NEC vi­sion queried

Birmingham Post - - NEWS -

CON­SER­VA­TIVE coun­cil­lors have moved to block an am­bi­tious mas­ter­plan for the Na­tional Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre, which they have branded ‘pie in the sky’.

Ear­lier this month Birm­ing­ham City Coun­cil and NEC Ltd pub­lished a joint vi­sion for the sprawl­ing site in Soli­hull which aims to cre­ate 10,000 new jobs and 2,000 new homes.

The plans in­clude re­de­vel­op­ing en­trances, cre­at­ing a lake­side ex­pan­sion to Re­sorts World, im­proved trans­port links through the Metro ex­ten­sion and pos­si­ble Sprint bus routes, as well as an ‘en­tern­tain­ment zone’ fea­tur­ing a new tele­vi­sion and film pro­duc­tion stu­dio thought to be the project backed by Peaky Blin­ders cre­ator Steven Knight.

But Cllr Ken Wood (Sut­ton Walm­ley and Min­worth), the Tory group’s shadow cul­ture chief, and fel­low party mem­ber Cllr Si­mon Mor­rall (Frank­ley Great Park) have called in the mas­ter­plan so it can be sent back to cab­i­net for re­con­sid­er­a­tion. Cllr Wood high­lighted the re­cent con­tro­versy over the NEC Group be­ing ac­quired for £800 mil­lion by Black­stone years af­ter the coun­cil sold £307 mil­lion.

He said: “Our ar­gu­ment is that we want to see more meat on the bone be­cause it lacks a lot of de­tail. It is pie in the sky stuff.

“Per­son­ally, I think it is a great vi­sion but there is no depth to it.

“What con­cerns me is whether we are set­ting our­selves up to re­peat the mis­takes, or the pos­si­ble mis­takes, of the past. It is typ­i­cal of the coun­cil at the mo­ment, they are pro­duc­ing very nice docu- three it for ments but they have no sub­stance.

“The coun­cil is mak­ing ef­fi­cien­cies or sav­ings, and we should be get­ting of­fi­cers to work on things with more cre­dence to them.”

The coun­cil spent £425,000 the mas­ter­plan to be pro­duced.

Leader Ian Ward de­scribed it as a ‘rad­i­cal vi­sion for the trans­for­ma­tion of the NEC cam­pus which will not only see the Mid­lands In­ter­na­tional ap­peal and global po­si­tion strength­ened but also bring huge eco­nomic ben­e­fits to our lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties’. for

> The vi­sion for the NEC which has been queried by coun­cil­lors

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