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Please can we have one?


SON OF GRIDKNOCKER
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One of the most impressive statistics about Birmingham's new City Library is its weekly opening hours: 73.  Open seven days a week.  By contrast, Hereford's forlorn, down-at-heel 1897 City Library & Art Gallery in Broad Street, now only opens its doors to visitors for 37 hours each week.  In its first four months, Birmingham's gleaming new cultural centre had more than one million visitors!

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Birmingham locals have access to an amazing cultural cornucopia.  It includes: the pick of one million reference and loan collections; a huge periodicals section; the city's archives and records office; a children and music centre; a business and learning centre; a studio theatre and cinema; an art gallery; the Shakespeare Memorial Room; and a roof garden which would win a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show any year.  And it's all free.

 

So where did we go wrong?  Principally, because Herefordshire Council is - and has been for decades - bereft of any 'cultural vision'.  Name a current Cabinet member who could explain to you the difference between the works of Pinter and Stoppard.  And don't even bother to ask Councillor Terry James who Joe Orton was.

 

Within a seven-year time frame, Britain's second city identified a site (actually it was a municipal car park, not much bigger than the car park behind The Courtyard Arts Centre), held an international competition - won by the Dutch designers Mecanoo, raised the £180-million funding, built and opened this hugely impressive multi-storied cultural behemoth.  It dominates Centenary Square, looking like a stack of gigantic glitzy hat boxes.  All this, achieved in about the same time that Herefordshire Council has talked about constructing an unnecessary 800-metre long east-west cross-city route, which is destined to go into the record books as Britain's most expensive-ever urban motorway.

 

'One book, one pen, one teacher can change the world.'  These were the words of Malala Yousafzai (the Pakistani schoolgirl who the Taliban attempted to assassinate in 2012, who now lives in Birmingham), when she officially opened the new Library last September.  Please can we have one?

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Birmingham City Council are as morally and fiscally corrupt as the best of them, makes our lot look like a bunch of choirboys (and girl). A council who thought it fair to pay women less than men until only a couple of years ago when they were stopped by the courts. A council that runs an illegal traffic camera network that rakes in millions in fines from unsuspecting motorists (including me - £270 in 11 minutes) - the councillor in charge has refused to refund fines despite being told to by an adjudicator. Electoral fraud in 2005 requiring a rerun of elections. A council that allows schools to be taken over muslim extremists. And so on.

 

As for the library, there's no escaping that it has been done in a timely manner, something that could never happen here. But look at the brutally ugly one it replaces - who allowed that? For what its worth, I think the library looks quite ridiculous, but no doubting the scope of whats available inside.

 

But Gridknocker is correct that this cabinet simply has no concept of culture or the arts - where's the 1% for art in the OLM? £90m x 1% = £90k, should be enough for a couple of statues. Better still, move that bloody non-Hereford bull to the OLM.

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One of the most impressive statistics about Birmingham's new City Library is its weekly opening hours: 73.  Open seven days a week.  By contrast, Hereford's forlorn, down-at-heel 1897 City Library & Art Gallery in Broad Street, now only opens its doors to visitors for 37 hours each week.  In its first four months, Birmingham's gleaming new cultural centre had more than one million visitors!

Could it be that there are nearly 1.1 million people living in Birmingham and we have a mere 58,000.

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My maths is wrong - 1% for art = £900k. Actual spend = £0.

 

Ragwert is correct - we're just a tinpot town, albeit with a cathedral, whilst B'ham is a multi-cultural city. But no getting away from the fact that Worcester has achieved what Hereford has failed to - yes, we did have a 'civic quarter' allocated in the original ESG grand design, including a library, but of course all that was cut once the deal was struck.

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I love Worcester's Hive and I salute them for the achievement.  And of course (@ pedants like Ragwert and Aylestone Voice) I wasn't suggesting that Hereford would ever attain what Birmingham's wealth and political muscle has pulled off.  And with a numpty like Cllr Johgnson in charge, aided and abetted by Second Lieutenants Bramer and Morgan, we'll be lucky if the poor old Broad Street building is given another lick of paint by the time the Three Choirs Festival returns to Hereford!

 

By the way, Geof Hughes' latest crackpot idea is to close the Franklin Barnes Info Centre (it only cost just over £300,000 to move it down the road from Garrick House), in order to include it in the lovely Patricia's next mouth-watering London Fire Sale.  Then shoe-horn all the council's info services into the Broad Street Library building!

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