“Reinvigorating Longbridge’s industrial heritage while also attracting new hi-tech investors and companies will also play an important role in cementing the area’s status as the real engine room for a prosperous and ever-growing Midlands economy, able to compete on an international stage.”— Mike Whitby, Birmingham City Council leader
A smattering of pre-new-year goods news, I suppose… From BBC News, this morning:
Up to 10,000 jobs could be created and 1,400 homes and a shopping centre built to renovate part of Birmingham affected when a car plant closed down. About 6,000 workers lost their jobs in Longbridge when MG Rover collapsed in April 2005. Now a total of Â£500m could be spent if the 15-year plan goes ahead.
Government ministers have already outlined plans for a Â£20m innovation centre in the area which will make up part of that redevelopment. The plans are being developed by the Birmingham City, Worcestershire County and Bromsgrove Councils. Council leaders said they hoped the 15-year transformation of the area would encourage more people back to Longbridge.
Under the plans Longbridge railway station would also be revamped and Bournville College would also be relocated to the area.
Â£500 million? That’s not petty cash. I wonder where they’re going to get it from… Higher taxes? Or, perhaps they’ll get lucky with someÂ ERDF/EUSF funding? One hopes for the latter but I think it’d be ill-advised to expect anything but the former. I definitely know that the only thing I’ve seen in the way of progress since Nanjing bought Longbridge is a near-total asset strip of the property, combined with a bit of bulldozing and, earlier this year, a VIP tour for some of the Nanjing execs around Birmingham centre (culminating in a ceremony attended by the Chinese, Council members and a the Press), so not much in the way of positive improvement has happened yet. I don’t even think any car production has been restarted there yet, which was their aim, wasn’t it?
Â Or maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. Anyway, my favourite bit from the article:
‘Determined to succeed’
A museum called the Austin Heritage Centre has also been proposed, which would celebrate the area’s history in car-making.
Woohoo! That’ll get the tourists rolling in!