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  1. Has Brum lost the status of second city?

    Has Brum lost the status of second city?

    Is Birmingham viewed as a city without direction, skills, infrastructure and pride?

    Talking to various clients, suppliers and creative’s over the past few months, everybody is saying the same thing. Birmingham is no longer the second city, even though it’s the second largest city in Britain by a country mile.

    So it begs the question. How could a city like Birmingham lose its way and why up North?

    The title of ‘second city’ is an unofficial one, and that’s not really the point. In 2007 the BBC commissioned a nationwide poll to find out which people thought was the second city.
    The results revealed that there was a different perception of the two cities by younger and older people.

    The survey outlined that 48% of people thought the second city was Manchester, with Birmingham getting 40%. If you look at 16-24 yr olds a whopping 60% went for Manchester.

    So where did it all go wrong, and why have we let it happen?

    The Government

    Nick Clegg in an interview with the Birmingham Post before the Lib Dem Conference said “I very much want the voice of Birmingham, the voice of our great cities, to be heard at the very heart of Government. It’s something I’ve told all my cabinet colleagues in Government that from now on they’ve got to make themselves available to our city leaders in a way that has never happened in the past”.

    Ok so it looks like there really is an issue in Westminster. And let’s face it we know what that is, London’s fat cats get first dibs.

    The BBC

    Birmingham has been abandoned by the BBC as a creative hub, and is considering further reductions throughout the city. Manchester’s MediaCity was announced by the BBC’s Director-General Mark Thompson as a route that would provide thousands of jobs and the corporation was keen to invest licence fee income across the UK.

    The truth is Birmingham has been left with no television studio, reduced radio and very little TV production within the city.

    Michael Bradley, in a letter to the Birmingham Post explains “It’s scandalous that the amount we must pay in the Midlands (£145.50 annually) is the same as that paid by the citizens of Manchester, Glasgow, Cardiff and London, because we receive so much less in return.”

    What a great point, we’re excluded and it is time that our MP’s stood up more for the city, put their personal profiles to one side and be seen to do something about it.

    The City of Culture bid

    In July 2010 Birmingham lost out to Londonderry on the ‘City of Culture’ bid. This was a massive loss to the region, and would have increased tourism and offered the chance to host events such as the Brit music awards and the Turner art prize.

    Our bid (and let’s face it should have been a walk in the park) was presented focusing on Birmingham’s heritage, its ethnic diversity, music and dance. But it proved not to be enough, against a list that didn’t contain any big city rivals?

    If you didn’t see the city of culture website on the day before the decision, there was a blog on Norwich from Stephen Fry, a blog on behalf of Derry from the Hollywood actor Liam Neeson. Sheffield was being sold in by a local writer. And blogging on behalf of the Birmingham bid? Not a soul.


    Birmingham has almost the lowest skills base in the country. More than two in ten of the city’s residents have low skills, compared to just over one in ten nationally.

    Lord Digby Jones said in May 2011 that Birmingham was also in “grave danger” of losing the second city title if universities, transport, skills bases and civic leadership were compared to Manchester.

    “Birmingham has never had the leg-up that northern cities have had. Government has always thought Birmingham could look after itself.”


    Birmingham needs to do more to defend, fight and shout about what it stands for and where it’s heading.

    Culture, diversity, heritage and pride all count for nothing if no promotion of this city just allows it all to pass like a ship in the night. The BBC and the politicians may not stand up for us, so we’ll have to do it ourselves. Our future depends on it.

    Written by Ian Hughes, Managing Director of LHM
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