As part of the sweeping reforms to the executive of Birmingham City Council, the new Labour administration has chosen to abolish the position of cabinet member for leisure, sport and culture.
I believe this will have disastrous long term consequences for both the arts, sports and culture sectors in Birmingham and for the regeneration of the city itself.
Since the early 1980s, the council has been promoting the arts, sports and culture sectors to help create a vibrant new image for a post-industrial Birmingham.
Large organisations like the Royal Ballet and UK Athletics have been attracted to our city because of the council’s continued commitment to nurturing and supporting their sector.
This commitment has allowed the council to leverage millions of pounds worth of support from numerous bodies including the Arts Council, Sport England and numerous sports governing bodies. What message does this decision now send to these funding bodies?
As well as improving the image of Birmingham, the arts, sports and culture sectors are needed to regenerate this city. Birmingham’s future prosperity lies in becoming the home for companies’ regional headquarters and we must encourage the growth of a ‘knowledge economy’.
Any company looking to Birmingham to provide a base will need to be confident that they can both attract and retain the skilled and talented workers they need.
Such workers in turn need to live in a place that provides the vibrant arts, sports and culture scenes they desire. It is no coincidence that Manchester has used its ‘hip and cool’ image to make it one of the most popular places in the UK for companies to invest.
Under the new Birmingham Labour administration the responsibilities of the cabinet member for leisure, sport and culture will be dispersed amongst a number of different cabinet members and 10 constituency committees.
No longer will the arts, culture and sports sectors have one figurehead overseeing them, speaking for them and supporting them.
Instead, responsibility will be spread thinly across a minimum of 13 senior politicians, each of whom will pass the buck and tie the sector in knots.
I would urge Councillor Sir Albert Bore to re-think this decision, before untold damage is done to Birmingham’s vital arts, sports and culture sectors and to our city’s regeneration.
* Martin Mullaney is the former Birmingham City Council cabinet member for leisure, sport and culture