Dear Sir, During the lengthy debate in your columns about the urgent need to increase rail capacity in central Birmingham and relieve pressure on New Street, many of your correspondents pleaded for a new station at Eastside.
I do not recall either Coun Whitby, nor indeed any parliamentarian, backing our calls then, and the message was that the spacious expanse of land in question was spoken for other developments, that a made-over New Street, notwithstanding its zero impact on congestion at the approaches to Birmingham, was the way ahead, and that rail capacity enhancement was something for later. So it is good now that leading politicians – I use the adjective loosely – are now going with the flow and apparently coming on board (Post,11 March).
They should not, however, pretend that this was always in the plan: if it had been left to Birmingham City Council, and given a fair economic wind, the land in question would have been built upon by now, when all along it has stared thousands of frustrated rail passengers in the face (as their train waits for a platform at New Street) as the obvious place for a major new central station.
Now that High Speed Two has ridden to the rescue – while I do not imagine that the current city council’s fundamental short-termism and lack of strategic vision will change – I trust it and its partners will be fully supportive of others’ vision which if implemented will have such a huge impact on the future prosperity of the city and the region.
I do have a concern, which is that, unless all concerned are fully on board, and, in particular, with the need to provide all the land needed for a truly international gateway to Birmingham, we could end up with second-best because competing interests want their slice of the site.
I am prompted to say this on reading the reaction of Nick Winterbotham, chief executive of Millennium Point, who asks “... would it distort the rather nice plans currently in place?”
Well, Nick, it just might, and if you, the business community, the politicians and the entire region don’t get behind this one 100 per cent, then what we will get, if we get anything at all, will be something less than 100 per cent of what the region is crying out for.
The spin doctors’ verbiage is the easy bit, Coun Whitby and colleagues: Let’s have your active commitment to doing and sticking with the very hard bit, and making this happen, as happen it must.