City will benefit from Sir Richard's vision
Feb 18 2008 Post Comment
Historians of the future will look upon the likes of Sir Richard Knowles as one of the great fathers of modern Birmingham.
It may be too soon to talk about his contribution as comparable to that of Joseph Chamberlain's.
But 10 years from now it may not sound so far-fetched. For the transformation Sir Richard kick-started is far from over. The next decade or so will see many new projects come to fruition.
There is the massive regeneration of the Eastside education district; New Street Station's reconstruction; a city centre park; the 490ft-high V Building, to name but a few.
All this would not have been possible if it had not been for the vision of Sir Richard and other like-minded individuals who saw the need to re-invent Birmingham.
Not only did they recognise this need, they went about making it happen at a time when the city could easily have given up to the doldrums of recession and a crumbling manufacturing base.
That only a quarter of a century later so much has already changed is testimony to their iron will and commitment.
It is also testimony to what local politics at its best can achieve when politicians, no matter what their affiliation, put aside their differences in pursuit of the common good.
Nothing in life is perfect, but Birmingham has been relatively fortunate in the ability of its political leaders to pull together when it matters.
True, recent years have seen some blips - notably the relo-cation of Birmingham library.
But the city's success in finally securing funding for New Street Station's regeneration is a good example of how important schemes can get done.
It is also serves as a timely reminder of how our leaders can make a real difference to enhance our lives and bring about positive change.
Despite sadness over Sir Richard's death, we should take heart in the fact that he lived to see this important milestone reached.
This will be Dick Knowles' legacy as much as the International Convention Centre and Symphony Hall will stand as the embodiment of Birmingham's can-do attitude.
For all its troubled past, what we see in Birmingham today is a city that through the industry of its leaders and citizens has emerged on to the world stage.
And though the winds of recession may again be felt, it is thanks to the hard work of Sir Richard and those like him that we are better placed to weather them.