Spending almost £12 million to build a multi-storey car park for which there is unlikely to be much demand for several years would not normally at a time of great strain on public finances be considered a wise investment.
But Birmingham City Council’s wish to press ahead with providing 1,000 spaces at Millennium Point is rather more than just a symbolic attempt to shrug off the impact of the recession.
It is vital, as the leaders of all the main political parties have said, to plan for economic recovery. Cities like Birmingham simply must make sure that they are in a position to cash in when the up-turn comes, although that happy day may be some time away yet.
The regeneration of Eastside has already proved to be a major success story – it is only necessary to think back seven years, when the constraining influence of the Masshouse concrete collar made expansion of the city centre impossible, to realise what has been achieved.
More is planned over the next few years with a number of major projects coming on stream. These include Eastside Locks, the Birmingham City University Campus, the new magistrates courts, the Birmingham Academy and the Vertical Theme Park.
It would be short-sighted to scrap proposals for the car park, which will clearly be needed as Eastside continues to grow over the next 10 years.
Politically, it may be difficult to convince council tax payers that it is right to spend £12 million on a facility for which there will be little demand in the short term, but the council cabinet must explore ways of delivering this project.