News Writer Sofiya Povoas reports on the launch of ‘Save Birmingham’
Amid the effective bankruptcy, there is a fight to keep beloved landmarks from being sold off and ensure the preservation of some of Birmingham’s most famous talking points.
Birmingham City Council has been considering selling off some of its historical and locally renowned landmarks in order to find funds for operating local services in the coming years. This could include parks, libraries, and historical buildings in the city which have been used and appreciated for years by many.
In response, the Save Birmingham Campaign emerged to stop this threat. Almost 200 landmarks, each with its own cultural and historical significance, have been identified by over 1,000 residents. This is a unique initiative and the first of its kind in England.
This follows the Birmingham City Council’s announcement of their effective bankruptcy in September. Amid IT issues and equal pay disputes, the council proclaimed uncertainty about being able to fund essential services in the next year.
Some of the named landmarks and sites at risk include Selly Oak Library, Birmingham Town Hall, Edgbaston Reservoir, and Harborne Library. The campaign has already achieved some success, with a few starting to be approved as ‘assets of community value’ in order to protect them.
Campaign organiser, Jeevan Jones, stated, ‘Once community places are lost, they stay lost’. He also commented that there are hopes this ‘can act as a blueprint for the dozens of councils facing severe financial problems through positive community-led solutions’.
Several other councils around the country have shown signs of financial insecurity, with Nottingham City Council also announcing their effective bankruptcy. Over the last 10 years, there has been a great reduction in funding for councils from the government.
However, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities have said, ‘We are working closely with the Commissioner team…to protect local residents and tackle the serious financial and governance problems’.
Nevertheless, the backlash to the proposals has been significant, with local residents protesting the changes and the threat to their community. This separate community group emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic as a hub for support but has blossomed into something of a resistance movement to the integrity of the Birmingham community.
A collective has arisen, garnering a voice and some power through its diversity and protests. Volunteer in the group, Surinder Guru, commented, ‘keep your hands off our communities’ in response to the council’s proposals.
Meanwhile, work is being done to ‘reset’ the council and to start the recovery of the current financial situation.
Read more news updates here: