It’s a great week to be one of the big-wigs at Birmingham City Council or one of its matey quangos as a twenty strong delegation is dispatched to Chicago for the best junket since MIPIM…
Less than three months after they sunned themselves in Cannes in the South of France, our tireless representatives are jetting off across the Atlantic to promote our city at the Chicago Sister Cities International Festival (Birmingham Post). Thursday, it’s reported, will be ‘Birmingham Day’ and so the city will be propelled to the fore to showcase it’s attractions and presumably lure investment, and what conjures the essence of this industrial city in the Midlands of the UK better than some Kathak dancers and a saxophonist/MC? Surely in the case of the latter we’re shipping coals to Newcastle?
The Birmingham stand is expecting around 10,000 visitors per day, and those lucky enough to stumble across it will also be greeted by a motley crew of a ‘juggler in Shakespearean costume’, two characters dressed in Aston Villa and Birmingham City Football Shirts and an actor dressed as a policeman. Sounds less like an invitation to Birmingham, and more like a malarial nightmare.
The delegation comprises of the usual suspects, with Advantage West Midlands and Marketing Birmingham in-tow as well as chefs, rather bizarrely, from two of Birmingham’s top restaurants: Opus and Simpsons.
For Birmingham City Council, Opus is very much the restaurant of choice and they spent thousands on fine-dining there last year (our treat). Visiting as often as they do it’d be difficult not to become very well acquainted with the staff so it’s little wonder that Opus head chef, David Colcombe, seems to speak for Birmingham who in turn represents the UK as part of the ‘Delice, Good Food Cities of the World’ initiative. It’s all fairly cosy.
Perhaps the best perk of flying off to Chicago for the week was that they’ve managed to miss their own lack-lustre Climate Change Festival, and instead will be taking part in ‘networking events’ (yum-yum, glug-glug).
Tim Manson of Marketing Birmingham talks about taking the ‘Birmingham message abroad’, but just what is the ‘Birmingham message’? What is it exactly that they’re using to tempt potential investment? Characters in football kits and a fake policeman?
This authority haven’t cut Council tax or business rates, they throw big money at silly festivals that involve erecting huge ugly pylons in front of their most beautiful municipal buildings, just today in the press it was revealed they’ve been paying £20 to anyone who claims to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender for them to take part in a survey about their housing needs, and they’ve sent twenty people over to America on a trip that has ‘jolly’ written all over it.
Even if the juggler goes down a treat, it doesn’t take much digging to discover that this council likes to splurge with the tax pounds they siphon from the local population.
No doubt ‘the Birmingham message’ is loud and clear for those who will be learning about the city over in Chicago this week, so it’s just unfortunate that those of us who footed the bill over this side of the Atlantic aren't at all sure what that positive message might be.