To invite members of the public who have registered in advance of the meeting to speak to the Committee.
The Chair welcomed Mr. P. Berry as a public speaker to the meeting, who was invited to speak to the Committee.
His speech was delivered as follows:
‘I was hoping to come along tonight to explain my opposition to the demolition of the Town Centre Library, however, I see from the report that this has again been delayed but I would still hope that even at this late-stage reconsideration can be given to this destruction of a well-used public facility. I look forward to the promised public meeting to take account of the community’s views rather than the fait accompli we are currently presented with.
On the Digital Manufacturing and Innovation Centre, I broadly welcome the investment in new technology. I hope that the Innovation Centre will benefit local people to encourage them to enhance their skills and provide well paid local jobs for Redditch people.
On the Public Realm project, I looked back at the original TIP and failed to identify the specifics of the plan. I note from the current report the increasing number of empty properties. I would be interested to know whether any thought had been given to acquisition of the properties with a view to separating the larger retail units into smaller units, while protecting the historical facades making them more affordable to local small traders or cooperatives and offering more variety and encouraging visitors. Plus, dare I say, to bring back the outdoor market that was taken away.
The space above the units could be transformed into Social Rented accommodation which would help the ever growing Housing list and be an instant rise in people using the High Street. I would suggest that £4.2million would be better spent on these enhancements rather than demolishing our Library.
On the Towns Fund, generally, I have a number of questions:
What will be in the format of the consultation in terms of exhibitions, road shows and public fora?
The Towns Fund website shows that the last meeting of the board was in November 2021. Has the board met since and when will the minutes of all meetings be published?
What evaluation has been made of utilising local skills, labour and suppliers on the construction projects?
Levelling Up 2
This is the first local report that I have seen on this fund. I see that the deadline for the bid is July 6th which is, again, very short notice for wider public engagement.
I note that the bid will be centred on Winyates and Matchborough. I have the following questions:
The last report that I can find, dated 26th March 2019, suggested that the proposals for the redevelopment would be put out to identify a suitable development partner. What was the outcome of that exercise, and is there still a commitment to two centres?
What are the proposals for future consultation, not just with the tenants and businesses within the centres but with the wider community?
Could this plan be developed to include a bold social / council rented housing program rather than grabbing pieces of existing space for minimal provision.
Once again thank you for your time.
Finally, I see that Redditch has been allocated £2.5 million from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. What is proposed to spend this funding on. The prospectus sets out the creation of Local partnership groups. What form will this group take in Redditch and again can we widen the membership of this group to involve more community representatives?’
The Chair then welcomed Ms. R. Sidaway as a public speaker to the meeting, who was invited to speak to the Committee.
Her speech was delivered as follows:
‘Good Evening Councillors and Officers
We, the Bonham family & Jon Bonham Memorial Friends, are concerned about the possible impact that the demolition of the library building would have on the John Bonham Memorial.
The bronze Memorial was installed on 31st May 2018 which would have been John’s 70th birthday. It was funded in part by worldwide fans’ donations with the Bonham family & ‘friends’ making up the shortfall. It was gifted to the people of Redditch under the care of Redditch Borough Council.
It has now been brought to our attention that consideration is being given to moving the Memorial as part of the creation of a new plaza area, once the library has been demolished. No attempt by RBC/Town Team to inform or discuss this with ourselves has been made. Therefore, we wish to place on formal record our strongest objection to this idea on 2 key counts:
1. Orientation of the Memorial
During the design & development phases, the sculptor undertook a number of visits to the Mercian Square site to assess the natural light falling on and around the location at different times of the day. He also calculated how this would change throughout the year. This is important to how people view the detail of the sculpture
We wish to stress that it is not possible to move the Memorial without a high risk of damage to the structure:
- A structural engineer, working with RBC Engineering Officer, was consulted to provide a suitable specification for the installation of the structure taking into consideration (a) the tree roots and ground beneath it, and (b) to make it ‘theft-proof’ and thereby difficult to remove
- The structure was cast in 3 vertical sections and then expertly “fused” together by highly skilled technicians at the foundry. Any attempt to move the structure would likely cause it to break-up.
The Memorial is made of Bronze, weighs over 1000kg, and cost around £100,000 to design, manufacture and install. It cannot be moved.