Birmingham Friends of the Earth letter to Birmingham City Council on use of public funds

Birmingham Friends of the Earth have put together a short (2.27 minutes) video  on
YouTube called “What Planet Are We on?” using that famous quote from Paul Kehoe
from a debate on the radio with  Joe Peacock (FoE Birmingham)  earlier this year
– when he said “I just don’t know which planet Friends of the Earth are on”.
Watch it here: and pass it on …

In response to the news that Birmingham City Council may give £10 million or
more to help with road alterations to enable the airport to lengthen its runway,
Birmingham Friends of the Earth have  written an open letter to councillors at
Birmingham City Council  questioning their use of public funds to pay for the runway
extension. This is copied below.  
It is on the Birmingham FoE website at:

Open letter to councillors at Birmingham City Council
Written by Joe Peacock      

Monday, 15 November 2010
Re: Birmingham Airport runway extension and funding relocation of A45
Dear Councillor,

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 this issue.  
There is a committee report about the 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.    Shares
in the company are also held by 7 local authorities the BIA board meetings are
held in secrecy, so  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

A few key extracts from the above 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;

– 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.

Your faithfully,

Birmingham Friends of the Earth

0121 632 6909
see also

Taxpayers to pay yet more to fund road scheme to help Birmingham Airport runway

25th November 2010     Taxpayers will be asked to  pay £10 million more towards the cost  of moving a
major road to allow Birmingham Airport’s runway to be extended.   The long-awaited
project can only go ahead once the A45 Coventry Road has been diverted at a cost
of £32 million.  Regional transport body Centro’s  CEO, Geoff Inskip,  said  Birmingham
City Council  would be asked to decide next month whether to contribute £10 million
towards the scheme. (Birmingham Post)
      Click here to view full story…



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