Birmingham City Council has been accused of not treating its citizens with 'the respect they deserve' over a report on the Paradise Circus developments.

The council's cabinet met this week to discuss a range of issues, including the HS2 development and the regeneration of Druids Heath.

However, just 12 hours before the meeting was due to take place, a further item regarding the redevelopment of Paradise Circus was added to the agenda, without the prior knowledge of many councillors.

The public report, titled 'Paradise Circus Update', gave very little information on the ongoing project, with just a page and a half of details.

The Paradise project in Birmingham city centre, construction work pictured in May 2018.

Birmingham Paradise development costs spiral by £100m

There was no mention of the £100 million overspend the project has incurred so far, nor to the fact that the council has handed over control of the Enterprise Zone to the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP).

In addition to this, the majority of new information regarding the development was included in the private report instead.

And Cllr Robert Alden, leader of the Conservative Group, criticised both the lateness of the report and the lack of information available to the public.

“I think it’s very disappointing the way this report has come forward," he told Cllr Ian Ward.

"It’s another late report, emailed out at 8.31pm last night [Monday 8 October]. And we’ve raised this before but it really is best practice if when a report like this, which we know is coming but isn’t ready, at least appears on the agenda as an item marked to follow. So that people are aware that it is coming and can keep an eye out for it, rather than just having it dropped as a piece of ‘any other business’ barely twelve hours before.

"The improvement panel, in their August updates, said that the new system was in place to stop late reports, except in real exceptional circumstances. And I would argue that this isn’t a real exceptional circumstance.

"I also think it is incredibly disappointing how much is in private, on the report. Frankly from the public report it’s impossible to tell what’s actually being discussed. There is so little information on it.

Birmingham City Council leader Ian Ward.

"And I’m sure people will be surprised that publicly available information such as the fact the council has handed over control of the enterprise zone to the LEP, which was in The Times and the LEPs own public documents, is missing from this report.

"There’s no mention that the Paradise redevelopment is overspent by £100 million, that’s been in the Birmingham Mail and The Times, so again is public information and yet is not in the public background information for this report.

"The council has confirmed to the Birmingham Mail that more funding is being sought, but that’s not included in the report. And indeed the Birmingham Mail reported that the council had specifically asked the LEP for more funding, but that’s not in the public report either.

"The public report, frankly, fails to list the publicly known situation, and I do not think that’s an acceptable way for reports to come forward.

"It’s not treating the residents of this city with the respect that they deserve, they shouldn’t have to go and google what The Times are saying to be able to find out the information that is publicly available."

Cllr Alden's comments were also supported by leader of the Liberal Democrat group Cllr Jon Hunt, who questioned whether any part of the meeting really needed to take place in private.

"I think the lateness of the report is highly questionable," he said.

"I think the lack of information that’s in the public report is actually even more questionable, to me. Because I’ve seen the private report, I have to step back and think ‘what would a member of the public see?’

"They’d see a report which says ‘something’s been tabled late, referring to the project needs to start drawing down the funding, but then you look at the public report that accompanies that and there is nothing. What funding? What’s it all about?

"I would say, I think I can say this publicly, I question whether the decision needs to be in private, from what I’ve seen of the private report as well. Let alone the lack of information about what’s going on in the project.

"I question whether the decision needs to be in private, particularly as we are in the situation where the council’s finances are under intense public scrutiny at the moment. And the council needs to be open and transparent about what it’s doing."

In response, leader of the council Ian Ward said that the decision did indeed need to be taken in private, rather than in the public section of the meeting.

However, he did accept that perhaps more information could have been included as part of the documents made available to the public.

"This decision does indeed need to be on the private agenda, this is commercially sensitive information that’s contained on that report, so the decision definitely needs to be on the private agenda," he said.

"As to the other issue as to whether more could have been written into the public report, because information is already out there in public, I take that point.

"I also think that we could in future when we have late reports coming in for whatever reason, engage the opposition parties in a conversation around the reasons why that is happening, and the urgent need to hear that report.

"I do consider this report, in particular - there are exceptional circumstances, and we need to take this decision urgently. But perhaps offline the three of us as party leaders can have a conversation about how this process is currently working."

The 1.8m square foot Paradise development is set to deliver offices, bars, cafes, restaurants and a four-star 250-bedroom hotel on land between Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and Centenary Square.

Last month, the GBSLEP confirmed that further funding for the development had been sought by BCC, with a decision expected later in the autumn.