Birmingham council cutbacks could send wrong message to UNESCO.
Birmingham’s bid for World Heritage Site status for its historic Jewellery Quarter could be under threat due to cutbacks in council support, according to reports.
The bid would put The Jewellery Quarter on the same United Nations protection list as the Pyramids in Egypt and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. But plans to move many of the council’s permanent regeneration team from the area into the city centre and shortening the hours of the information centre could affect the outcome of the bid.
David Mahony of the Jewellery Quarter Association said that the cutbacks will send the wrong message to UNESCO, who will decide the outcome of the bid. He told the Birmingham Mail: “We have craftsmen working in the same way as they have for 150 years. In any other European city this would be a major tourist trap. If we lose representation in the Jewellery Quarter, UNESCO will believe we are not taking this seriously. It will cost at least £70,000 to make the bid. We need to know that we are not wasting our time.”
Cabinet member for regeneration Neville Summerfield insists that Birmingham Council is committed to the Jewellery Quarter. He said: “We are moving back office staff into the centre, but they will still be working on the Jewellery Quarter. We will also retain a presence in the Jewellery Quarter, but will not pay £30,000 a year for an office we do not need. The council is committed as it always has been, we are just doing things in a different way.”
The council has previously been criticised for not including the Jewellery Quarter in its City of Culture bid.