The “row” over a £20million Birmingham City Council loan (Post, December 15) for the refurbishment of Warwickshire County Cricket Club’s Edgbaston headquarters provides an unhappy example of the city’s lack of vision and misguided priorities.
If you were told a Birmingham building was going to be shown to millions of people virtually every year, it make sense to ensure you provide an outstanding example of 21st century architecture. You only have to look at the Sydney Opera House or Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum to realise the vital role architecture can play in a city’s image.
The drawings of Edgbaston’s £30million refurbishment plan are hugely disappointing. The Edgbaston Road frontage is in the multiplex cinema class while the pavilion side of the development that will constantly be on camera for anything up to five days every year during television coverage of Test matches has little visual appeal and no stand-out features.
What should concern people is not the issue of Birmingham City Council lending £20million towards the plan but the scheme’s design. Edgbaston is not just a cricket ground, it is a showpiece for Birmingham.
It is the most atmospheric Test arena in England and the ground most favoured by the England team with its good-natured, Colosseum nature highlighted by the standing ovation given to the great Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne when he conceded 100 runs on the first day of the unforgettable 2005 Ashes Test in Birmingham.
Recently Birmingham has shown welcome signs it is finally correcting its mediocre architecture fault line by attracting designs by internationally-known architects for key projects such as New Street Station and the new library in Centenary Square.
Edgbaston cricket ground has a marvellous main scoreboard, the attractive new Eric Hollies Stand and an ancient pavilion that is an intriguing rabbit warren of rooms internally with little of note externally aside from an excellent viewing balcony and a pleasing bell tower. But generally the ground is nothing exceptional visually and has nothing to match the visual grandeur of Lord’s. Now a wonderful opportunity beckons to change this perception.
Cricket pavilions offer much scope for imaginative design and the new pavilion could provide an eye-catching showcase for Birmingham in the Edgbaston plan.
It will be a regrettable wasted opportunity if a mediocre Edgbaston ground scheme offers a damning indictment of Birmingham’s 21st Century design credentials viewed by millions all over the world.
Dear Editor, My wife was one of many NHS staff who received complimentary tickets for the Elton John show at the NIA.
It was a brilliant show and he is a true showman. I wondered if you could give an award to whoever it was who organised that kind act – Twenty-First Artists, Elton John himself, the NIA – I don’t know who it was, but thanks from my wife Liz and me.
On another point, while I was watching the technology that promoted Elton and band to the audience, I was trying to imagine what it must have been like at the Buddy Holly concert in March 1958 at Birmingham Town Hall and how the acoustics would be compared to 2008. I have had a great response from former fans and otherwise to my professional scrapbook of memories, etc of Buddy’s visit to Birmingham and Wolverhampton in March 1958.
I would have loved to have asked Elton if he was influenced by Buddy’s music.
Thornbury Road, Walsall.
Dear Editor, I was concerned, though far from surprised, to hear that the city council’s safeguarding procedures had been described as “inadequate” in Ofsted’s new report.
We are a charity working with families subject to immigration control, many of whom are living in desperate, destitute circumstances and are demonstrably at real risk.
We routinely find it little short of impossible to work in our clients’ best interests alongside social work colleagues employed by the local authority. The result of such practices is that small voluntary sector agencies such as ours are left alone to meet vulnerable families’ support needs – including their basic accommodation and subsistence needs – while the local authority resorts to ever more unaccountable practices.
We sincerely hope that a result of Ofsted’s report will be the establishment of decent and appropriate local procedures and protocols which will serve to ensure that some of the most vulnerable children in this city are afforded a decent safety net.
Dave Stamp, Project Manager,
Asylum Support & Immigration Resource Team,
Herbert Road, Small Heath, Birmingham