Embracing a Dynamic Future in Our City; Deborah Luck Analyses How Birmingham's Successful Regeneration Calls for a Change in Attitudes and Perspectives on How the City Is Managed. Birmingham Seems Unable to Decide Whether It Is an Arts and Culture, Engineering, Learning or Science and Technology Sort of Place
Luck, Deborah, The Birmingham Post (England)
The quest to change management at the heart of Birmingham will help the city form a vision and take up its role as a truly international player.
A pounds 2 billion regeneration programme has left Birmingham with a seemingly apprehensive air, almost unsure how to embrace the future.
Its success has not just taken the world by storm but also itself and now the private sector has called for changes in the attitudes and perspectives on how it is managed.
Now hailed as a major tourist destination, it seems unable to decide whether it is an arts and culture, engineering, learning or science and technology sort of place.
Despite having a good healthy balance of all these, this is one of the reasons the private sector wants a revamp of city centre management.
A proposed new structure will see control taken from the council and handed it over to a public and private partnership spearheaded by a top flight manager.
Mr Charles Smith, a director with Birmingham Forward, which represents the interests of accountants, lawyers and bankers, said the city's vision is to become a truly international player.
He said this goal would bring further success, more industry, more jobs and a safer and more pleasant environment for residents.
'This is all about having a holistic approach to running the city centre which must now be done via an inclusive partnership. For that there must be good leadership,' he said.
'In the next decade there could be 50,000 new jobs in the city. It is vital that the city centre is a place that is really happening. It has got to compete with places like Madrid.
'I think it is hugely important that whenever anyone has an experience of Birmingham, they should be able to say it was great.'
Mr Philip Calcutt, marketing director with the Birmingham Marketing Partnership, said the city had already carved a name for itself as an events destination and now must work hard to maintain that mantle.
1998 helped this tag to be secured in the world's eyes with the G8 conference at the International Convention Centre followed days later with the Eurovision Song Contest.
The headline-hitting events were just the start of the city's escalating fame with another packed year planned for 2003.
The World Athletics Championships will go ahead at the National Indoor Arena and the huge ITMA - International Textile Machinery Association - show will take over every hall at the National Exhibition Centre.
'Lots of people are surprised by the pace and level of achievement of Birmingham, in the last five years in particular,' Mr Calcutt said.
'Without any shadow of a doubt it has created a recognition in the UK and internationally as an events city and a cultural destination.
'Birmingham is the current number one event city in the UK. But it must continue to work hard to maintain that. The more diversity and quality in the city the better.
'The city needs ambiance. Atmosphere is a very hard thing to measure and quantify. You just know if somewhere feels good and safe, and you know somewhere you do not like, even if you do not know why. …