Re: Birmingham Airport runway extension and funding relocation of A45
In this time of financial cost-cutting measures when front-line staff face losing their jobs, we understand that Birmingham City Council is proposing to inject a large sum of money (between £10 and £30 Million, although nobody will confirm this) into a scheme to divert the A45 away from the airport, thus allowing the runway to be extended.
However, the City Council will not deny or confirm that this is happening and have refused to disclose this information when we lodged a freedom of information request on the matter. There is a committee report about this matter which went to Cabinet in July, but this contains very little specific information about the proposals and gives no details of costs and how it is to be paid for. The report refers a number of times to another confidential report – which presumably contains the full details and costings and the public is unable to view this.
Whatever one’s view on the merits of the airport expansion (ours are well-known), it surely cannot be right that this is happening in secrecy and outside of any public scrutiny. We find it unacceptable that this is happening at a time at a time when the council has issued statement after statement about the need to reduce it’s costs and greatly reduce it’s own staff. We understand the council are looking to save £300 million pounds from their budget. The road project they are paying for is outside the boundary of Birmingham, which further begs the question why our tax payers should pay for it.
We are also aware that the major shareholders, in the form of pension funds of teachers from Canada and Australia, are reluctant to pay the full costs of the runway extension and that this was discussed at a recent board meeting. Although shares in the company are also held by 7 local authorities the BIA board meetings are held in secrecy and this does not speak well for their accountability to the interests of taxpayers in those areas.
It seems that of all these local authorities, it is only Birmingham that is offering to directly subsidise the airport through this road-building scheme. The question should be raised of why public money is required to fund the realignment of the A45 to enable the runway extension to be built. Also, why are the 7 local authorities of the West Midlands County going to forego their dividend payments from BIA Ltd?
We also feel that this has not been handled in accordance with the Local Code of Governance (especially see items 1, 4 and 6) – see http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/governance
A few key extracts are copied here:
Birmingham City Council is committed to applying the core principles set out in the SOLACE / CIPFA Good Governance Framework (2007) of:-
Focusing on the purpose of the authority and on outcomes for the community and creating and implementing a vision for the local area;
Promoting values for the authority and demonstrating the values of good governance through upholding high standards of conduct and behaviour;
Taking informed and transparent decisions which are subject to effective scrutiny and managing risks;
Developing the capacity and capability of members and officers to be effective; and
Engaging with local people and other stakeholders to ensure robust public accountability.
We would be grateful if you could take this issue up on our behalf as our members are citizens of Birmingham and council tax payers.
Birmingham Friends of the Earth