Birmingham’s new Labour leader Sir Albert Bore has unveiled plans to turn the city into the Britain’s enterprise capital including a bid to create the textile equivalent of the Balti Triangle.
The leader set out an ambitious policy programme with jobs and enterprise as the number one priority and admitted it is the criteria on which his administration will be judged.
At the centre of the programme are a series of business hubs around which the council hopes to encourage economic growth and development over the next few years.
Among them are two women’s enterprise hubs based in Alum Rock Road and Stratford Road under which female entrepreneurs will be given greater encouragement and help to start their own businesses – with a focus on the growing textile industry.
Sir Albert said: “Giving women the freedom to work can transform a family’s living standards and for many women enterprise is great way forward. But a lack of start-up spaces, skills and childcare can hold them back.
“We will pilot the Women’s Enterprise Hubs supported by a microfinance initiative. We are encouraging them to create the textile equivalent of the Balti Triangle.
“As well as improving women’s skills and employment opportunities, the success and visibility of the initiative will continue the development of Birmingham as an alternative retail destination for shoppers outside the city.”
It has long been claimed that while much has been done to attract visitors and tourists to the Balti Triangle and Ladypool Road, comparatively little has been made of the city’s other specialist ethnic retail areas such as Alum Rock Road and Soho Road.
Further sites around the city have also been earmarked as economic growth zones, including a manufacturing hub at the Aston Regional Investment site next to the Expressway, the Heartlands Business Park in Washwood Heath, a medical technology campus in Edgbaston, an area for environmental technology development in Tyseley and a food hub to build on the success of the Balti Triangle.
Sir Albert further developed the Labour manifesto pledges on a buy Brummie policy for council procurement, the living wage for low paid staff, a new Birmingham Baccalaureate tailor-made for local industry’s needs, devolution of council services, the green economy, investment in digital infrastructure and a pledge to close the poverty gap.
One policy pledge, to plan and build 70,000 new homes by 2026 to meet the demand of Birmingham’s rising population, would prove problematic.
The administration was asked whether or not the green belt was at risk, which such a large number of homes needed.
In a written answer it was admitted that existing evidence, in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment, found that ‘the long-term capacity to build new homes within the built up area of Birmingham are likely to be around 43,000 dwellings, there will be pressure to find the additional capacity’.
So now city bosses are opening negotiations with neighbouring boroughs and partners in the Birmingham and Solihull LEP to find out if there is space to provide the extra 27,000 homes outside the city boundary.
Sir Albert said that meetings have already been lined up with LEP partners.