Thursday, December 13, 2012

Labour announce the disbanding of Birmingham’s Heritage Panel

Labour announce the disbanding of Birmingham’s Heritage Panel

Last week the Labour administration announced that its Heritage Panel would be disbanded. This decision is terrible news for Birmingham’s built heritage, since this panel has saved so much of Birmingham historic buildings from being flattened. 

The Heritage Panel has existed for over 20 years – when it exactly started I don’t know, but it definitely existed in 1990, since I joined it as the Campaign for Real Ale representative. The Heritage Panel is purely an advisory panel to the Council’s Planning Committee and is full of architectural historians. There are representatives from the Georgian Society, the Victorian Society, the 20th Century Society, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Britain and so on. The Panel costs nothing to run, since everyone attends it at their own cost. Yet, its value to the city is priceless. Members of the Panel will research the history of buildings and provide advice on whether a planning application will destroy the historic character of a building. Also, members act as the eyes-and-ears to the Council making them aware of any illegal work on historic buildings.

The Panel meets once a month and gives the Council their views on planning applications relating to statutory listed, locally listed and conservation area buildings.

At last week’s monthly meeting of the Heritage Panel, the Chair of the Committee, Councillor Barry Henley (Labour, Brandwood Ward) announced that the Panel would be disbanded. This caused uproar amongst its members. Councillor Paula Smith (Lib Dem, Hall Green), the Lib Dem representative on the Panel objected. Various members started shouting at Councillor Henley. One member left, slamming the door behind him.

The future of Birmingham historic buildings is now very vulnerable thanks to Birmingham’s Labour Councillors!


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