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Video: Jasper Carrott backs BID to boost image of Broad Street

The star was guest speaker as the Westside Business Improvement District launched the ballot needed to ensure it can raise a levy and provide services

Comedian Jasper Carrott has urged city centre businesses to back an organisation which he says is helping to improve the city’s image.

The star was guest speaker as the Westside Business Improvement District launched the ballot needed to ensure it can raise a levy and provide services for the area it covers including Broad Street, Brindleyplace, Centenary Square and Broadway Plaza.

Mr Carrott was at the event as chairman of the Broad Street Walk of Stars which last year held celebrations in honour of ELO mastermind Jeff Lynne and former footballer Trevor Francis. He said these events secured national coverage.

He said that as a passionate Brummie he wanted to see the renaissance of the city continue and that Westside had an important to play by investing in, marketing and providing services like extra street cleaning and street wardens.

Speaking at Symphony Hall, he recalled a time when Broad Street, like much of the city, was dirty and industrial and said places like the Bingley Hall in Broad Street was "disgusting".

"Vandals used to break in to decorate it," he joked. "I have seen the regeneration of this city and I am now proud to bring visitors to my city because we have an astonishing array of places to go, theatres, cinemas, we've re-done the canals, improved the city centre. Over the last ten years, the BID has made a massive difference in this area."

He said the Walk of Stars, an initiative from Westside's predecessor Broad Street BID, had been a huge success in promoting the city, attracting tourists and global media attention. Last year, Mr Lynne and Mr Francis were honoured and achieved national coverage.

He said he wanted to keep the high calibre of stars and international attention the Walk of Stars brought.

"What I'm worried about is that the momentum will halt, we've still got a lot of work to do," he added.

"We have people who care passionately about this city, it's a no-brainer you have to vote yes."

The lifelong Blues supporter also stunned football fans by saying a small part of him wanted Aston Villa to lift the FA Cup last week.

He said: "When I say I'm a Birmingham City fan, Birmingham City is my second love. My first love is the city of Birmingham and when Aston Villa lost I was torn between two posts.

"Because really and truthfully it would have been wonderful to have the FA Cup come to Birmingham to show everyone else what we can do."

But later, when a Villa fan said he could never have been so gracious, the comedian reminded him that Blues were the only Midlands team to win a trophy this century.

He was joined by Westside chairman Sam Lawrence who pointed out that, as well as running the Walk of Stars, the BID raised a levy from businesses to pay for extra services like street wardens, taxi marshals and street cleaning.

Businesses in the Westside BID area will be given six weeks to vote on whether or not they want grant another five years for the BID.

The group was supposed to ballot before the end of March but "protracted" negotiations with the city council over its new boundaries led to delays.

The council has approved funding of up to £155,000, three-quarters of which is a loan, to keep its services going until the ballot result is known.


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