There was a public meeting held by the Birmingham Council Planning Comittee on Monday last 19 October at the Council House to hear the views of Ladywood residents on the proposed Aquatics and Leisure Complex off St Vincents street (opposite the NIA, just round the corner from the end of Sheepcote street) …..
The background is that the Ladywood (Labour unanimous) Councillors strongly oppose the ruling Conservative/Lib Dem Council on the siting of the complex, as they have declared on their recently distributed leaflet.
I attended the meeting, and I heard very similar views from all present. Those who stood up and spoke were largely representatives of Resident Associations and Groups from Ladywood and Neighbourhood Forum members plus Councillors Carl Rice and Kath Hartley. At least one was from an adjacent Neighbourhood Forum.
The basic opinion, which seemed to me to be pretty unanimous, was that the complex was a superb thing for Ladywood and will enhance the area and the lives of local residents as well as those of adjacent neighbourhoods and probably the whole of Birmingham and the West Midlands and the UK.
Also what seemed to be in common agreement was that the siting of the complex is not right. This, I recall, was mainly stated as being the lack of transport facilities and the current overload of the roads by cars and coaches and their need to park in the area. The extra parking need generated is proposed to be absorbed within current NIA car parks. Many speakers reported that there were already major problems in coping with the current demand. This overload could especially be the case when there are simultaneous events at the NIA and complex both of which can have events at any time of the day; the traffic therefore may sometimes be additive.
The preferred site of most speakers seemed to be the current Ladywood Arts and Leisure Centre on Ladywood Middleway. The speakers reckoned that the road links and capacity for parking are much better at this site.
I do not recall any speakers actively supporting the officially proposed siting, only encouragement that the complex development should proceed as soon as possible.
The above description is my recollection only and could be inaccurate or not representative. I have tried to be neutral in this. Please bear in mind that the Labour Councillors have advertised aggresively by leaflet to residents in the Ladywood ward about their opposition to the siting and so the audience could be so inclined. Nevertheless views have been expressed by interested parties and hopefully will contribute to a balanced view by the Planning Committee.
The meeting was conducted in the following manner. The Planning Committee sat in front of the audience. The spokesman for the Committee asked each speaker to provide their name and address. The speakers then gave their views, then sat down. There was no response from the Planning Committee. After all speakers had delivered their views the meeting was declared closed.
So, on the face of it the audience were able to express their views “publicly” for consideration by the planning committee.