ANOTHER VIEW; Don't forget Birmingham

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Deeply disappointed but not surprised. That sums up my feelings and those of most other Birmingham people when we heard yesterday that the City has not been chosen as the site for the national stadium. We genuinely believed that we had the best bid - accessibility, innovative design, the potential for developing sport at every level in the community and above all a unique location. In fact the judging panel described Birmingham's bid as an excellent one, citing the city's proven track record of hosting major sporting events.

I understand that the reason given for turning down our high-quality bid was because the Birmingham site is in a green belt area. A public inquiry would be needed and it was felt that it was far from certain whether it would result in Birmingham's favour.

The National Lottery has been described as the poor paying for the pleasures of the rich. The thousands of Birmingham people who buy lottery tickets every week have so far seen little return for their cash in funds coming back to this region. My constituents in Ladywood are amongst the poorest in the country - they deserve to get something back from the lottery.

Many people in Birmingham - and indeed Sheffield and Bradford - may well ask why bother to bid at all. It is always easy to carp when you lose.

But equally Birmingham would, I think, have been criticised if it had not made the effort to attract the stadium and the thousands of jobs it would bring to a region that has seen its traditional industries decimated over the past decade.

My work in London means I can fully appreciate the amenities of the capital city. But as a representative from outside London I also think it is damaging for the country to see prestige projects as only possible fore the capital. This was obviously another reason for Birmingham to make the bid to be considered for the national stadium funds.

The national stadium steering group can point to the fact that they are now considering both London and Manchester further, and I wish both bids the best of luck. The important thing for our city is to keep its traditional resilience and I am sure that the city will not let this disappointment affect its determination to press ahead with its other major lottery bids.

I hope this setback will actually strengthen the National Exhibition Centre's campaign to become the site of the Millennium Exhibition in the year 2000 and secure support fot the Millennium Campus in Digbeth just south of the city centre, a major project that would create up to 11,000 jobs.

The writer is Labour MP for Birmingham Ladywood and shadow Transport Secretary.