Sunday, 31 October 2010

Sir Ranulph Fiennes - Designs on Destiny

Sir Ranulph Fiennes, The world's greatest living explorer
 What do you take away from a talk given by someone officially recognised as “the world’s greatest living explorer”?  Last week I listened to Sir Ranulph Twistleton-Wykeham-Fiennes with a growing sense of awe – that he was alive to tell his tale!
About 300 people had gathered to listen to the 3rd Baronet of Banbury tell his story of “39 years of package holidays” spent working with a team of 52 in 9 countries. They’d been through thick and thin together during that time, despite some lousy T&C’s, “We never pay anyone anything at anytime,” noted Sir Ranulph. “We keep ahead of our known international rivals by completing the remaining global physical goals, such as crossing the Antarctic continent without any support.”
I have to admit that I’d arrived at Birmingham's International Conference Centre (ICC) event organised by the Birmingham City University Business School on “Leadership, Challenge and Perseverance in the face of adversity” with perhaps more than a small part of me thinking I was about to listen to somebody who’d embarked on some fairly barmy travels to some pretty peculiar places for no very good reasons...
To get us into ‘the zone’ Sir Ranulph helpfully set the scene – on food deprivation - there were “no Tescos en route”;  on physical trials - “take a bath outside into your garden and put 3 of your fattest 6’ plus friends in and tow this for 3000 miles over sand dunes. ”  Both options entirely inconceivable in my mind – but I was about to discover this was just a ‘starter for ten’.
So what kind of person embarks on these ventures?  Well, if you believe Sir Ranulph’s telling of it – an unqualified, prank-loving scallywag who’s never really grown up.  But whilst amusing this clearly belies the steely reserves driving this tenacious, shrewd, generous-spirited character (I estimate he and his team have raised over £15m for various charities), who’s cheated death more times than I’ve cared to contemplate it.

Sir Ranulph - The Early Years
He told us he was born in Windsor (Wikipedia cites Glasgow) during the War soon after the death of his father, Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, who was killed in action at Monte Cassino in 1944.  He was just one when his mother moved the family to South Africa, “where the education was poor”.  But whilst “mother had no money,” the family were comforted in the knowledge they would at least have a good education at Winchester College, as it had been started by a Fiennes and had a policy to give anyone of that name a place free of charge.
However when the wider clan “started to breed like rabbits – mostly actors” Winchester changed their tune, applying an entrance exam and requiring top grades, so Ranulph was sent to the only school open to someone of his "low academic attainment" – Eton College. There they enjoyed a regime that included boxing and ‘stakeopholy’ (or climbing tall complexes to annoy the masters).  Illuminating as this was – with Sir Ranulph exhibiting an early penchant for sticking stakes into unusual places... it did not guarantee the A-Levels required to become a Commanding Officer of the Royal Scot’s Greys Cavalry Regiment – his long held ambition.
Sir Ranulph’s mother, resourceful as ever, located an institution in Brighton famous for steering all its students successfully through their A-Levels. He ruefully admits to breaking their record because, as he puts it, “the mini-skirt era was at its peak”.
As Sandhurst was no longer on the cards, he went to the Mons Officer Cadet School in Aldershot, mastering the art of “digging holes in straight lines.”  That was at the height of the Cold War so he was sent to drive a tank in Germany – “learning to retreat from the German border, not great for the CV,” he admits, when he saw an ad for the SAS and found himself in Hereford with 190 soldiers, 30 officers, and no one else from a cavalry regiment – and became known as the ‘donkey walloper’. 

SAS and Army Years
Training, SAS fashion, followed – swimming across local rivers with no clothes on at night and a mission to steal £200k from a local bank.  Sir Ranulph recounts approaching the local Hereford Barclays bank manager mid-morning, having slept in after the ardours of naked river-swimming and the like, describing him as “a little naive”.  Having explained that he needed somewhere safe to deposit the family silver, requiring some understanding of the electronic security systems to feel sure his family heirloom was safe, he later set off, security plans in hand, for dinner.  However, he accidentally left the same plans at a local Italian joint in London following an enjoyable meal - leading to an early brush with the law. 
Sometime later he was thrown out of the SAS following a call from an old Etonian classmate enticing him to take part on a ‘mercy mission’ to Castle Combe, one of the prettiest villages in England, as the production crew on the film ‘Doctor Doolittle’ had erected an ugly concrete dam outside the village “regarded as something of an eyesore by the locals and needing to be blown up”. A six month stint in HM Prison Chippenham followed, then it was back to the army and German border patrols.
Getting bored of this and frustrated by his waning career prospects Sir Ranulph decided to join the Sultan of Oman’s army during the Dhofar rebellion (1962-75) learning his early Arabic in Beaconsfield in preparation for a 3 year stint – “a dialect not prevalent in the desert”. During this time Sir Ranulph became the first person to take photographs of and measure insects in this part of the world for the Natural History Museum, even having a centipede, the ‘Fiennes’, named after him.  Daily hazards included the deadly Eichis Viper and equally deadly Soviet anti-personnel mines.  He commanded the Reconnaissance Platoon of the Muscat Regiment, with 6 Land Rovers at their disposal, patrolling a border which “leaked like a sieve”.  He led several raids deep into rebel-held territory on the Djebel Dhofar and was decorated for bravery by the Sultanate.

Over the three years of active service in Oman he became acquainted with the Eastern Makara tribes, apparently descended from the Queen of Sheeba, living in the only place where Frankincense trees grow, resulting in the opening of ancient trade routes between Oman through Arabia and on to Israel when this business was at its height. 

However, during the Dhofar Rebellion these nomadic tribes were wholly dependent on camel milk, grazing and living in rough tents, with Sir Ranulph’s pictures demonstrating the extreme poverty of their existence, both then and today. They told tales of a lost City in the desert and Sir Ranulph started to wonder if this could be the city referred to in the Bible as ‘Sodom’, and in the Qur’an as ‘Iram of the Pillars’, or even the ‘Atlantis of the Sands’, spoken of by T E Lawrence.  He spent the next 26 years scouring the desert for it, eventually finding that all the time it had been a few hundred meters from his desert base whilst on duty in Oman.

Leading Expeditions - as a Profession

Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know
 He married, trying and failing to get a job in the City and checking out adventure training which “didn’t really appeal”, so he thought he'd lead expeditions commercially, which meant, as he explained in January magazine (Oct 2001), “I wouldn't use my own money I'd get sponsorship. I mean I wouldn't pay anybody at any time for anything: that was the rule. So no expeditions ever had a bank account or a cheque book. Drawing pens, petrol, everything had to be sponsored. And today we still apply that basic rule to it.”  He did 12 expeditions in 12 years including the first hovercraft expedition up the 4000 miles of the longest river in the world - the White Nile - in 1968.  The hovercraft were designed to move 2cm above the water surface, but “there were a lot of obstacles 3cm above the surface”, proving quite testing for the craft and its 3 motorbike engines.

In the mid ‘70’s “fashion changed quickly in which expeditions to do”, according to Sir Ranulph’s “boss”, his  literary agent, with Americans going off hot expeditions, so he “needed to go Polar”.

Transglobe Expedition 1979-1982

Sir Ranulph recognised they had to be ambitious and do the first journey round the world through both poles, “there have been far more people on the moon than have done this trip round the world.”  Apparently it was his late wife, Ginny, who came up with the idea of travelling along the Greenwich meridian to avoid crossing USSR territory as the route for their Transglobe Expedition  (1979-82).
The Antarctic had never been crossed from one side to the other by the same expedition and in the Arctic only Wally Herbert had done the 2000 mile crossing. The Americans were “desperate to get to both poles”.  His team, who gave up paying jobs for 3 years, covered 9 countries to oversee the 52,000 mile journey, finding 1900 sponsors including a ship, with the ‘land group’ or expedition team including Sir Ranulph and two others - Ollie Shepherd and Charlie Burton, selected from amongst thousands of applicants. 

"Ollie Shepherd had been a beer salesman in London for nine years, and Charlie Burton in the butchers' business in London and South Africa," Fiennes said in an interview for the London Business Forum, adding, "they had the right characters" - you cannot teach people to change their character as if you were teaching them a new skill.
Having arrived in the Antarctic they had to wait in the dark along the ‘hinge zone’ in a paper house designed by Ginny to withstand the minus 30 degree centigrade temperatures and 40 mph winds.  In fact they had to endure minus 122 degree centigrade windchill and when the sun went down it was minus 68 degrees.  Cooking with petrol in the paper house was something of a challenge, but they were able to map Antarctica for the first time as the early satellites were only launched in 1996. 
They hauled 120 lb tents (today they weigh 3lbs) designed by the “greatest Polar explorer, Captain Scott,” coping with katabatic winds which could go from 0-130 mph in 3 minutes, and passing an active volcano along the way - the site of a plane crash where all 168 people on board had been killed just a short time previously.  On arrival at the Pacific Coast their ship took them onto New Zealand, Australia and into the Baring Straits where Ollie Shepherd left them “to save his marriage, after 8 years without being paid”. 
Travelling ‘up’ the globe they went through the North West Passage on a 16’ boat with Burton at the helm, something no one else had previously managed,  waiting on the most northerly island at the mouth of the Yukon for 2 months.  A report for Transglobe Expedition notes Burton was particularly struck by the enormous mosquitoes, which he described as like "flying Jack Russells".  

When the season changed Charlie and Sir Ranulph got going.  Charlie got fungus in his feet but they kept going.  When he started skiing "the fungus fell off the bottom of his feet, leaving no skin.  His language got bad and he developed hemorrhoids and his language got worse. One day he fell over and cracked his head on a rock, his eyes filling up with blood... and he started to whinge a bit then..." However, Fiennes has also described Burton, now deceased, as “the toughest guy I ever met”.
In another episode also recounted by Transglobe Expedition, “Burton clutched on to Fiennes's snowmobile with frozen hands as it sank into open seawater while his companion rescued some vital pieces of equipment. Since much of their protective clothing was lost, they were driven to sharing a sleeping bag for 24 hours until a new snowmobile was hazardously delivered by a Swiss charter pilot.”

During one radio transmission Burton and Fiennes heard that Britain was at war but did not catch with which country as their solar panels only allowed a couple of minutes of listening at any one time.  They debated which country they might be at war with for the next five days never guessing that Britain was actually at war with Argentina. 

They finally reached the North Pole, becoming the first human beings to reach both Poles, but time was against them and they needed to keep ahead of the break up.  “We were on a flow which was getting smaller, then the boat due to pick us up got stuck in ice 18 miles away from our flow.”  However, they managed to reach their ship which was jammed in the ice between Greenland and Spitzbergen becoming the first and last people to have successfully circumnavigated the earth by walking through both poles. Their expedition had taken them three years and two days by the time it finally returned to Greenwich.

Quest to Find the Lost City of Ubar

In 1992 the quest to find the lost city of Ubar was on in earnest.  NASA had been taking satellite images of the desert with a capacity to penetrate up to 10 metres below the earth’s surface.  These had made out some vertical lines and it was felt such structures could not have occurred naturally or been ‘created by God’. Sir Ranulph set out with 4 Land Rovers donated by Land Rover, Solihull, and Dr Juris Zarins, an American-Latvian archaeologist specialising in the Middle East who felt that God could well have created the the right-angled structures so they “reverted to traditional archaeology” which lead them to Shisr north of Shalalah and South of the Rub Al-Khali desert.  

According to an interview with Linda Chapman, October 2001, Sir Ranulph explains the moments leading up to the discovery of the lost city saying to Zarins, “Well, there's some rubble about 300 meters from where we’re based, in the desert. It's rubble rather than flat ground and he said: All right, we'll get some practice for the team. And he started and within three or four days, about nine inches down, he'd unearthed a two-and-a-half-thousand year-old chess set. And within six weeks, I think, he'd found the outline of the city wall. Once you've found the outline it gets quicker." It was at that time, "the biggest active excavation works in Arabia. But it took 26 years to locate it and archeologists have tried to find it before without success: since the 50s.”

Unsupported Crossing of the Antarctic 

In the mid 1990’s they heard that the Norwegians were about to cross the Antarctic without any support.  Shackleton’s plan had involved bags being dropped off at the South Pole and Sir Edmund Hilary and Dr Fuchs had relied on a pincer plan.  Sir Ranulph knew, as he had "done the maths" that an unsupported expedition was effectively an 'impossible task' – you simply could not carry all your kit and enough food, but, his professionalism demanded a response -  if your rivals were about to do something then you had better get on and start competing. 
He was joined on this expedition by Dr Mike Stroud with each man hauling 490lb for 16 miles daily for over 90 days covering over 1400 miles and up to 12,000’ high altitudes.  They burned 8,500 calories a day consuming 5,000 calories daily leaving a 3,500 deficit.  They wore ventile cotton made in Lancashire and along the way suffered horribly with frostbite and gangrene with Sir Ranulph showing some particularly vivid pictures to illustrate, negotiating up to 7000 crevasses en route. 
"You can't wear the 'soft boots' that might normally be worn on a non polar expedition, you have to wear plastic ski boots which are quite rigid," he said, explaining that he and Stroud also wore special skis designed for polar ice and snow conditions.  However, these heavy boots also damaged their toes which hurt until they were numbed by the cold.  "After just 10 days you start getting gangrene."

Hire the Character and understand Motivation
If you're stuck with the wrong person in Antarctica then you cannot sack them, he points out. He claims it was the trust between him and Mike Stroud that ultimately proved to be unbreakable, allowing them to complete their mission. “Hire someone on the basis of their character and if you notice a nasty flaw in their character sack them immediately – with no sideways promotion,” he add, "I see this as the answer to everything."
When recruiting anyone, he has said speaking to the London Business Forum and echoing these thoughts in Birmingham, "I wouldn't use a complex system of giving them one out of 10 on different characteristics, I would just look for self-motivation, because how a person is motivated is the basis for their future behaviour and for their organisation of their exploration group. Select the right personnel and you can be confident of achieving most things... If you start with the organisation it's amazing how apparent obstacles will fall away."
Mike Stroud had negotiated a contract with The Lancet to conduct on-going tests on the effects of starvation on the human body and they found that they were” starving more quickly than we had dared to hope”, having burnt off all their fat they were starting to cannibalise muscle tissue.  Their hands blistered with the freezing blisters dropping off to leave raw exposed wounds.  

Stroud was taking blood specimens from Fiennes for various universities around the world every five days making Fiennes collect his own urine after drinking a special fluid every fortnight. "I began to 'hate' Mike," Sir Ranulph says, explaining that the urine collection was especially difficult because any appendage exposed outside the tent for more than 48 seconds would suffer permanent damage. "I'm not normally vindictive but, in the tent one night... I noticed that his was much more blistered and damaged than mine, which made me very happy at that time," he told the London Business Forum in May 2007.

Undeterred by frostbite and gangrene they continued, descending the Mount Beardmore glacier with Sir Ranulph explaining how they felt, “Every day you didn’t want to be the one who was first to stop. Every day I hoped that the other man would break a leg or something so that we had to stop.  Mike had devised a diet of 62% fat with ghee butter covering most of what we ate.  For several weeks Mike would pick out a couple of flapjacks, handing one to me, and it would always seem that mine was the smaller, so I suggested to him that I choose my own flapjack. But after awhile even when I chose my own it still seemed smaller than his.” Nonetheless they made it to the Pacific completing the longest unsupported Polar journey in history and, by the way, raising £4.2m for the building of the UK’s first Multiple Sclerosis Centre in Cambridge.

Marathons and Motivation
An hour cannot really do justice to the exploits of Sir Ranulph Fiennes.  We hardly heard about his running seven marathons in seven days on seven continents when he teamed up with Mike Stroud once more, despite having  undergone a double heart bypass operation just four months before, to carry out the extraordinary feat of completing the Land Rover 7x7x7 for the British Heart Foundation. "In retrospect I wouldn't have done it. I wouldn't do it again. It was Mike Stroud's idea", he’s been quoted as saying. Their route took them to Patagonia, the Falklands, Australia, Singapore, London, Cairo and New York.

So what motivates the man: “Some people are motivated by their religion; I was raised Church of England but this wasn’t enough.  My dad and my granddad were my heroes and motivated me. I didn’t ever want to let them down.”  So has this 66 year old, like many others his age, decided it’s time to hang up his stakes once and for all? Has he heck, he’s working on his next trip which is still too secret to divulge – for the time being, at least.


Birmingham Post Business Blog

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Design and Manufacture - key to economic growth

Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya
Hear hear, Professor Lord Bhattacharyya. The good Lord at Warwick Manufacturing Group has warned us that if we don't focus our efforts on our manufacturing businesses, led by our premium manufacturers like Jaguar Land Rover, it will be a disaster for the West Midlands region.

Even after the restructuring of the past decade or so when manufacturing has halved as a proportion of GDP to around 14% of our regional economy, manufacturing is still the largest sector in terms of its value added contribution amounting to 27% of our GVA.

We're enjoying a renaissance in luxury automotive as well as lifestyle brands with global reputations - think of Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin, Morgan Motor Company, Triumph, London Taxi, Aga, Rayburn, Rangemaster, Pashley...well, it's a list I've made before.

But it's a list that other regions, not just in the UK but around the world would give their eye teeth to have in their portfolio. One that we, too often, overlook, ignoring the skills of generations who've demonstrated the ability to combine our productive expertise with our creative talents and a flair for design.

You might say,'this isn't just manufacturing, this is creative manufacturing'. It's playing a leading role in the West Midlands knowledge economy and needs to be appreciated, understood, and grown.

Will Hutton of The Work Foundation has coined a new phrase, 'manuservices', to sum it up, stating that the boundary between manufacturing and services has become blurred as consumers have become more demanding. He says, "Manufacturing in 2010 has to have a keen eye on the soft or intangible side of its offer; the best are becoming manuservice companies."

It is investment in intangibles that is driving competitiveness, growth and value added. "Manufacturing invests more, proportionately, in intangibles than the service sector and manufacturing is the biggest single investor in design, spending twice as much on design as it does on R&D," says Will Hutton.

Design is the Trump Card

I spoke to Ian Callum Design Director at Jaguar about it.
Ian Callum thoughtful.JPG

He's clear that design is the trump card, not only for Jaguar, but for the nation saying: "It is my firm belief that design and manufacture could be the answer to our economic problems, given the intellectual and creative capacity represented in that."

He believes passionately we can design ourselves out of recession. "These days people do not simply buy what they need, they buy what they like. We're now in the privileged position that we're able to buy what we like and design is key to that. But some leaders in industry still see design as simply the styling that is the 'icing on top of the cake'."

He's frustrated at the attitudes of our political leaders saying "I have a strong sense of aggravation that our government, both at national and local levels, does not appreciate the value of manufacturing in the UK.
"There was an attitude that 'money begat money' and money was not made from manufacturing - we had become too sophisticated for that. But it's only recently that Germany has been overtaken by China in terms of the value of their manufacturing export which is huge."

Ian points out that despite car production being regarded as passé in government circles UK auto production has in fact been relatively stable in recent times and, although it has fluctuated, it has been in or around one and a half million for most of the past decade. Last year the West Midlands produced just short of 300,000 cars.

Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya is warning that if we don't get our act together we may start to lose the vital pieces that make up the parts of our luxury branded cluster. JLR employs 16,000 in the area. In 2007 manufacturing employed 362,000 in the West Midlands and included over 19,000 businesses.

Our manufacturing expertise is a powerful engine for design-led growth. It's not only a vital part of our knowledge economy it's unique to our region and needs nurturing for all our sakes.

Local Enterprise Partnerships - review of SQW Report - 'A new era begins?'

"Everything is a design challenge," said Ashley Goodall, speaking to me at a New Statesman sponsored fringe event at the Tory Party Conference in Birmingham recently.

I was interested to hear his thoughts as Managing Director, Saatchi & Saatchi Design on the challenges of the 'Big Society'. "In terms of communities," he said, "design is about the 'interface' between communities and systems; how you relate to and engage with initiatives and activities. To enable this engagement you have to design the interface that makes sense of the activity, giving it meaning. You need to design the means of navigating the framework and the ways to engage. It's about designing an ecology that is understood and that works."

It struck me these views could equally be applied to Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in terms of the means of encouraging real engagement between business, local authorities and universities. In taking a similar approach to the Big Society the Coalition government said, "Local Enterprise Partnerships will see business and local authorities come together and set out their priorities for their area, rather than being told what is best for them".
A recent report published on LEPs by SQW concludes that significant amounts of 'partnership capital' or the track records of joint working between business, civic, knowledge and financial partners, together with a history of significant resourcing - are going to be required if we are to see successful outcomes delivered by these bodies. Will Hutton, The Work Foundation, puts it another way, "It is becoming crystal clear that no economy can get to first base unless it has all the components of an innovation ecosystem."

The SQW report states, "...the reality is that they simply do not exist in most LEP situations. Without a reasonable degree of 'partnership capital' - both social/institutional and financial - it is difficult to envisage effective delivery....Some level of resourcing and enhanced powers are important too, without this, LEPs could prove to be of limited effectiveness."

They conclude, "There is an urgent need to develop new models of economic development that reduce the overall call on the public purse. The business community must be central to this but government also has a crucial role to play...Radical remodelling of this nature goes far beyond the issues of territory and governance which have dominated LEP thinking to date. It needs some hard and creative thinking and that in turn requires a few ground rules."

Their report, published 24th September, was interesting in that it reviewed 50 of the 56 LEP submissions made to BIS for the 6th September deadline just a month back. SQW have a history of working with local authorities on economic development over the past 27 years.

LEPs, people will recall, were intended to come up with ideas to rebalance the economy towards the private sector, to create the right environment for business and growth in their area whilst ensuring accountability, reflecting natural economic geographies, being of a reasonable size and including 'groups of upper tier authorities'.

But so far there has been little clarity around the nature and scale of resources to be made available, any performance metrics required, how submissions would be judged as 'road worthy' and capable of delivering an 'orderly transition from the existing RDAs'.

Headline Findings

The SQW review uncovered a tremendous diversity of approach in the 50 LEP proposals highlighting the following issues:

• The shortest submission was 3 pages, the longest 92 pages and the average 27 pages;
• LEP areas varied from 330,000 residents in the smallest to 3.4m in the largest - the average covering 1.1m residents;
• Upper Tier authorities as signatories ranged from none in 'at least three cases' to 10;
• Six submissions defined a geography that crossed a regional boundary;
• Approaching 70 local authorities featured in more than one submission;
• 41 submissions included a vision or mission, 9 did not and just under half included targets;
• 44 submissions committed to recruiting a private sector chair.

Territory and Governance

Well over 40 made the case for the functional coherence of their proposed LEP territory. LEP submissions covered various combinations of city regions and polycentric urban areas as well as bids made by shire counties, sometimes as alliances - although many of these did not represent groups of upper tier authorities - and included rival bids. On this issue the report openly wondered if an area could become a LEP without the backing of democratically elected politicians?

Government guidelines had stated that it was 'vital that business and civic leaders work together', with this meaning that normally there would be an, 'equal representation on the boards of the partnerships and that a prominent business leader should chair the board.'

However, the SQW review shows that "the extent of business engagement and involvement...was - in general - thin. The only exception to this was those situations in which existing governance and partnership arrangements were substantially in place prior to June 2010."

They continue, "Businesses - or, more usually, business representative organisations - appear to have endorsed submissions, but rarely was there evidence that they had genuinely shaped them.
The report states, "Given...the inevitable tendency of local government to gravitate towards more politically defensible administrative boundaries, a meaningful calibration from the business community really ought to have been designed in."

LEP Priorities for Economic Development were interesting in that many of the priority issues identified differed significantly from the RDA agenda. Top LEP priorities included -
• Adult/workforce skills
• Low carbon agenda
• Transport
• Inward investment
• Employability and worklessness
• Business development including early stage finance
• Business development - innovation

The least frequently stated priorities for LEPs included energy, utilities and waste, key sectors and brownfield land.

The most frequent priority around adult/workforce skills had not been mentioned as a priority within the outline guidance, but submissions had been steered to 'work closely with universities and further education colleges.'

The LEP priorities outlined above contrast with RDA spend - 32% on regeneration through physical infrastructure; 17% on business development and competitiveness; 8% skills related activities (as outlined in an earlier PwC report).

SQW felt that the extent to which the outline LEP submissions addressed the need to rebalance the economy was 'quite limited'. They state, "particularly with regard to the shift from public sector-dependent employment to private enterprise, our observation - and concern - is that in general, LEP thinking simply has not gone far enough: 25-40% cuts in public spending over the next three years will have a significant impact on all local economies and an overwhelming one on some. Yet, in the main, LEP submissions are silent on the nature, scale and imminence of this effect and appropriate responses to it.

Fewer than half identified trade and export as a priority and very few provided any real evidence in relation to it. "More generally, the majority of LEP submissions were seriously thin in terms of issues relating to internationalisation and global competitiveness...yet it is on a global stage that businesses - and local areas - must increasingly compete."

LEPs Functional Plans

SQW state that LEPs were on the whole inclined to act as strategic leaders. A significant minority were prepared to sign up to an R&D/intelligence function, but far fewer appeared willing to commit to commissioning or project management or delivery. The report asks that given that LEPs do not seem to be "gearing up for a hands-on delivery role" and given the limited resources available how will "things be made to happen"?


SQW conclude that whilst some early progress has been made "we are some distance from a workable set of sub-national arrangements. To effect an 'orderly transition', there is an urgent need for some clarity. In our view, the business community will not engage properly without it - and a system of economic development that does not have businesses fully on board risks being 'broken' from the outset. With the possibility of major job losses arising from public sector spending cuts, this is all the more important right now."
Clarity is needed in relation to the spatial coverage of LEPs, the relationship between LEPs and Local Strategic Partnerships, the key functions to be delivered, and any additional discretionary powers which might be granted to promote economic growth.

For full SQW report: Local Enterprise Partnerships, A new era begins visit

Birmingham Post blog visit

Past and Present are tied tight - Can Cultural Heritage provide a greater source of unique design inspiration?

LP Hartley's famous opening words in 'The Go-Between', 'the Past is another country' contrast with Hardy's reflections in 'Tess' where 'Past and present are tied tight'. For me the past is very much alive, living on through the context of today's cultural backcloth.

TS Eliot said 'culture may ... be described simply as that which makes life worth living'.
How much do we really draw on our culture, taking inspiration from it as a means of informing and referencing work today to form a closer dialogue between producers and users of design?

Design in a Cultural Context

Designers consciously using cultural context to develop an informed dialogue with their customers from start-up, drawing on aspects of our wider Midlands culture, include producers such as Emma Bridgewater with production out of Stoke-on-Trent and Jan Constantine based in Cheshire.

Emma Bridgewater, speaking recently on 'The Bottom Line', Radio 4 said, "I am moved by the idea whenever you see things within a tradition; I like to work within a recognisable tradition. William Morris had it right, design has got to be practical and beautiful. There's got to be passion..." She added, "there is a mass blindness about making things in England... It's not necessary, we can do it. We have so much infrastructure - museums, art schools, all with the intention of making things, but somehow it doesn't happen at the moment..."

There are, of course, other businesses in the Midlands drawing on their heritage as a source of continuity and dialogue with their customers, whilst continuing to innovate to meet their changing needs and demands including Brintons Carpets which I recently visited, meeting with Managing Director, Harry Reilly.

Brintons Carpets

Brintons likes to remind its customers that their carpet business is only 6 years younger than the USA. Clearly, quite a lot can happen in 227 years. During that time Brintons Carpets has built up a global business employing 1700 people, turning over £80m with an 80 person strong design team around the world.
When asked about their design archives Harry was clear about the unique asset this represents. "Our design archive collections represent a resource which is about authenticity and tradition - something that cannot be replicated and whilst designs can be 'knocked off' no one has the provenance that our collections represent.
"The company has a great design heritage and it's still as vibrant and cherished as it's ever been.

"We rely on design, referring back to our archives for design inspiration, re-interpreting this in light of today's trends and our clients' aims and aspirations, as well as encompassing other design elements such as detailed project management, planning and estimating which, if done properly, can save thousands of pounds on a project. It's this approach, coupled with constant innovations to processes and technologies in our production, that's helping to keep us ahead in such a fiercely competitive global market."

Brintons Unique Design Archive

Brintons Design Archive Collections from around the world have been brought together over the past 15 years and the company is still discovering works that they never knew they possessed.

The company archivist, Yvonne Smith, tells me how only recently she discovered an extensive collection of 800 Japanese stencils dating to 1890 that they never knew they had, which turned out to be one of the largest collections outside the V&A. "However", she says, "a lot of work has never been archived as it was designed with the thought that it would never be used again and discarded."

The company has 3 rooms full of their archives. Whilst they've managed to digitise about half of their archives, this is very much an ongoing project and one which occupies Yvonne's mind as she juggles the archive management with the day-to-day demands for design inspiration coming from their global design team.

A Unique Global Design Resource

Brintons has a dozen offices in the USA, a London Design Centre in Clerkenwell, offices in Singapore and Australia with an international team of Field Designers based around these offices and elsewhere worldwide. Their Field Designers send in ideas discussed with their clients representing the types of look, feel and specifications that they want to achieve in their carpeting approach.

Yvonne searches the archive materials for designs matching these approaches, sending out design materials amounting to a collection to inspire further designs, discussion and ultimately a contract for a carpet design.

She sends out about 500-600 designs a week from their archive materials and no other carpet manufacturer has such an extensive design resource.

Alongside this approach Brintons produces brochures with new commercial and residential collections and have enjoyed very successful design collaborations with designers including Timorous Beasties, "two wonderfully colourful and eccentric (and brilliant) Glaswegian designers, Alistair McAuley and Paul Simmons", says Harry, together with Laura Ashley and the flamboyant, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. The company has also enjoyed high profile creative collaborations with designers, Vivienne Westwood and Manolo Blahnik, resulting in some stunning advertising campaigns.

Earlier design relationships include with Edouard Benedictus and E A Seguy producing work for the company from 1890's-1910. Other notable designers for the firm include - Christopher Dresser and even Henri Matisse.

Anna Maria Garthwaite was a silk designer at Spitalfields who died c1760 but who was considered such a craftswoman that her name was used on the finest designs for sometime after this period and can still be seen on original designs in their collection.

They hold a selection of original artwork from Morris & Co as Brintons supplied the esteemed William Morris business with carpets over an extended period. They have 3-4 works by architect and designer, Charles Francis Annesley Voysey; "We had more," sighs Yvonne, "but these have since disappeared."

During the restoration of Kew Palace carpet designs were inspired by those woven for Osborne House on the Isle of Wight drawing on the original hand-painted artworks in the Brintons archive, where Prince Albert's signature can be still be seen, clearly written - an elaborate hand executed with some flourish, able to impress over 100 years later.

Their earliest dated pattern is from 1798. Paper was very expensive as it was taxed with all the patterns represented in the smallest feasible scale. Carpets at this time were handwoven and Seymour Reginald Brinton subsidised little factories all over England and Ireland, including Kildare carpets, later responsible for the carpets on the ill-fated Titanic. When 'Titanic' was being filmed the production company came to Brintons who were able to supply them with designs from the Kildare carpet company archive. More recently Brintons collaborated with Milwaukee Museum on Biedermeier designs.

Yvonne doesn't know off the top of her head how many hand-painted papers are in their archive, but reckons a conservative estimate must put it at over 30,000 - all needing to be filed, referenced, digitised and ready to draw on as the company re-invents itself to satisfy our insatiable appetite for design.

Birmingham Post blog visit

'Re-use and Re-think' - taking inspiration from the Midlands unique cultural heritage

Having returned from a shopping trip with our children over the weekend I was struck (again) by how many successful UK fashion brands have grown out of our rich and often anarchic culture. There's quite an array of British fashion companies making me consider just how much innovation is coming out of what might sometimes be seen as our 'fuddy duddy' heritage.

We spent the day with little effort browsing (and indeed buying from) stores retailing lifestyle brands such as, Seasalt, Joules, Lazy Jacks, Mini Boden, White Stuff, Jack Wills, Howies - an impressive range of youthful, culturally-inspired clothing.

These businesses are revelling in and largely inspired by sporting or coastal cultural heritage (surfing, skiing, sailing, love of the outdoors, motorsport), drawing on quirky, eccentric, humorous attitudes, together with a nod to craft values, to portray a contemporary picture of an aspirational (mostly) British lifestyle.

Whilst many of these brands have originated in the South West, if we focus on interiors and homewares then more businesses originate in the wider Midlands, such as Lady Bamford's glamorous Daylesford Organic in Gloucestershire boasting produce, 'straight from our farm to your fork' or Baileys Home and Garden in Herefordshire with its strong eco-friendly ethos and "the qualities integral to our 'repair, reuse, rethink' philosophy." Perhaps it goes without saying it also includes brands such as Aga Rangemaster, Imperial Bathrooms,'Bringing Bathrooms to Life for Life', Samuel Heath bathroom accessories , 'for a life less ordinary', and other companies I have mentioned previously!

Design inspired by cultural heritage runs through these businesses, with each focussing on slightly different markets in developing their contemporary relevance, with much of their uniqueness and character coming directly from the passions of their entrepreneurial founders.

Seeing this made me wonder how many more businesses could be inspired by the extensive archives? For example, those held within the Birmingham Central Library and across the Midlands in museums, libraries and even in businesses themselves if they could be digitised and made more accessible as a source of inspiration.

As the Birmingham Young Poet Laureate, Megan Bradbury, has said, "When you go to a library you are potentially discovering a new world, I could read something that changed the way I think about things because books can influence people."

Situated on Chamberlain Square (but not for too much longer) Birmingham Central Library is a treasure trove detailing hundreds of years of design endeavour.

The Central Library houses extensive industrial archive collections including those of the Soho Manufactory comprising Boulton & Watt's personal papers, considered by many to be 'the most important archive of the industrial revolution anywhere in the world'.

Soon this massive archive, with 3 million photographic images and over 6,000 archive collections, will be re-located into its new home, a £193m new build designed by Dutch architect, Francine Houben of Mecanoo.
Francine was inspired by the city's industrial heritage, drawing on the new Library's location on the site of the Cambridge Street Winfield Brass Works, the largest operating in Birmingham during the 19th century, reflecting this in the building's striking external filigree metalwork.

Francine has been keen to show something of the City's proud heritage by capturing its 'grain and soul'. She sees the library as the 'social heart of the city' and so she has wanted to create a building that 'touches the senses', integrating the existing architecture of Baskerville House and The Birmingham REP3a.jpg into a connected experience. There will be one foyer and entrance for both the new Library and the REP. "I hope that with our building we will bring a coherence to Centenary Square," she says.

The Central Library's Shakespeare Collection includes the first Folio Edition of Shakespeare's works, published in 1623, worth an estimated £3-4m. It also includes criticism, photographs of productions, albums, press cuttings. Who could deny the fundamental impact of Shakespeare on our culture? Sitting alongside the Library's collection are those of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust- if these were connected digitally, for example, this would represent a huge cultural resource unequalled anywhere else in the world.

The Hardman Studio archives of stained glass and brassware include the designs commissioned by Pugin for the Houses of Parliament including all the stained glass and brassware which formed such a key element of Sir Charles Barry's visionary work and Pugin's Gothic inspired interiors.

The most valuable pieces are contained in the John James Audubon Folio, 'Illustration of Birds of the USA', valued at between £5-6m for 4 volumes covering limited edition plates recording these natives species.
The photographic collections chart the history of photography itself and including archive collections of Midlands MP, Benjamin Stone, born into an industrialist family in 19th century Birmingham and covering 100,000 images and prints from all over the world. Roger Fenton's archive includes his pictures of the Crimea and Vanley Burke's is a record of the Afro-Caribbean story in the City.

The Parker collection of Toys and Games was a personal collection which has been added to by the Library and contains many interesting and unusual examples of early childrens' games.

Brian Gambles, Assistant Director, Culture, Birmingham City Council, stresses how important it will be to make these extensive archive collections more accessible to both business and communities in the new building. "We are investing significantly in a new Digital Asset Management System which will allow existing web portals to provide visual inspiration to designers, engineers, business people and communities. We're looking to build a thematic approach through a series of spaces to break down barriers and democratise learning for those otherwise unable to access information. We even plan to have live streams of theatre performance - given our co-location with the Birmingham REP in our new building."

Of course new books are being published too which reflect on our prestigious cultural heritage. One written recently by written by Professor David Roberts of Birmingham City University and published by Cambridge University Press, celebrates the tercentenary of the death of 'Thomas Betterton, The Greatest Actor of the Restoration Stage', renowned, in particular, for his Shakespearean roles. One of Betterton's great performances was, according to Professor Roberts, inspired by an earlier actor who had performed alongside Shakespeare, 'The Master', himself.

Betterton was alive to the continuity of interpersonal knowledge represented in theatre performance, seeing it as a vital sense of culture existing in the minds of the audience and leading to the development of strong relationships and bonds between theatre goers and the company - a sentiment we might associate with strong brands today. Betterton himself was a keen collector of Shakespearean memorabilia hunting out details relating to him and owning the famous Chandos portrait. He had a powerful sense of tradition, also believing in the central importance of hard graft and discipline in his Duke's Company, but always prepared to innovate, for example with moveable scenery, to bring a renewed sense of drama to classic texts which he recognised would continue to live on in the collective imagination of our shared culture.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Up, Up and Away – Birmingham Airport spreads its wings as a powerful driver of growth and jobs

Paul Kehoe, Chief Executive
Birmingham Airport
“All the ingredients are starting to come together,” says Paul Kehoe, Chief Executive, Birmingham Airport – dubbed ‘London’s new airport’ by the Telegraph, thanks to plans for High Speed rail links(HS2) which could cut travel time between Birmingham and London from just over an hour at present to 38 minutes.  This, coupled with the runway extension - cleared by planning and environmental scrutiny and with investment now in place - could have a transformational effect on the wider Midlands economy. 
Having successfully lobbied for Runway 2 in Manchester when working for the CBI North West in the early 1990’s, the numbers from that region are demonstrating the vital impact this investment has had on their economy and - in particular - through the growth of highly valued knowledge economy jobs. 
Birmingham Airport and the Knowledge Economy
The sad fact is that over the decade 1998 – 2007 Birmingham’s share of the UK private sector knowledge economy declined from 3.9% to 3.55% - one of only 3 of the UK’s 11 Big Cities whose private sector knowledge economy declined. 

By contrast, Manchester’s share of our private sector knowledge economy increased.  In fact according to The Work Foundation, who have carried out some detailed research into this area, Manchester stands out as the ‘success story’ of the Big Cities becoming, “more knowledge intensive at a faster rate than the national average, gain(ing) the greatest absolute number of new jobs in private sector knowledge services and increas(ing) its share of total private knowledge employment by the greatest margin of any of the Big Cities between 1998 and 2007.”  Manchester’s share of private sector knowledge economy employment at 3.7% of the UK’s total employment (2007) in this category, is second only to London, with by far the biggest share of employment growth over the past decade coming from within the air transport sector.

When you look further into what has happened at Manchester Airport it’s apparent that the runway development, with resulting capacity increases, has been responsible for huge growth in the air transport sector - from a 3.9% to a 6.5% share of their private sector knowledge economy. The Work Foundation report, ‘Flat or Spiky: The Changing Location of the British Knowledge Economy’, April 2010, states, “This is commensurate with the growth in the number of passengers at Manchester Airport from 17,351,162 in 1998 to 21,219,195 in 2008 and with Manchester’s status as the busiest UK airport outside of London.”

Runway Extension and High Speed Rail

Transport, always one of the top lobbying priorities for anyone involved with business, doggedly pursued by many in the CBI, Chambers of Commerce and IoD has remained a painfully elusive goal for the West Midlands. 
However, we could now be about to see plans that place Birmingham Airport at the heart of a (partially at least) integrated national network with the potential to leverage the surrounding M42 corridor assets by £11bn in GVA.  In addition Centro is forecasting that HS2 will lead to the creation of an additional 22,000 new jobs in the West Midlands over the decade to 2026.
“We’re currently operating at around half our current capacity,” says Paul Kehoe “Birmingham Airport is a vital yet underused piece in the National strategic infrastructure. It is already the Midlands’ premier international gateway.  In addition to this, the prospect of HS2 from Central London to Birmingham Airport will make journey times comparable with Gatwick, Heathrow or Zone 4 of the Underground and shorter than from Stansted and Luton. Given our additional capacity and the proposed link to high-speed rail we’re uniquely positioned to attract passengers from the over-heated South East.  But, we will not just be another Airport for London as we have our own traffic and by providing a solution to the ‘Heathrow problem’ we will create jobs and help re-build the economy.”
Paul thinks that, thanks to a revised solution to building  the Runway extension, they will be able to bring forward the opening to 2014, even though this means moving the A45. The 400m extension will be financed through a phased approach which Paul says has halved the original costs but will add an additional 2,500 miles of travel for each airplane using it.
“The Runway extension gives global connectivity, however, over a lifetime of 20 years we will be able to go out and market with more confidence to our key target markets, especially those in the emerging markets,” says Paul.  “For example, there are 247 urban centres of greater than 1m people in China and they are currently building 94 new airports, so they represent huge potential for us.”
“It’s true that we have 8m people within one hour catchment of our airport  - however there is a large international catchment of many millions wishing to visit the UK at some point.  This is what motivates me and I will keep focussing on delivering this growth.”
When questioned about whether people will pay the costs of travel via HS2 Paul is quite clear they will.  “People do adapt to higher travel costs. This is a question of higher fixed costs associated with living in London combined with lower variable costs through lower travel costs in comparison with living further away from London but having lower cost of housing (or fixed costs) but higher variable costs through higher travel costs.
“People are already paying a lot to get to London £250 return to London for a first class ticket on Virgin and £115 for standard class. In my view people discount the cost of travel after a time and adjust their living standards accordingly.”
Structure and Performance
With annual revenues of just over £100m Birmingham Airport employs 550 people directly with a total of 6,000 people employed on site.  They are forecasting 8.7m passengers this year – down from last year’s 9.6m, due for the most part to the fragile nature of the recovery and partly a result of the Icelandic dust cloud. 
Birmingham City Council and the 6 Districts of the West Midlands own the business, together with Airport Group investments (AGIL).  Whilst Paul Kehoe sees local government owners as “in tune with the people who live, use and work at the airport that they have a stake in,” AGIL, to his mind, “brings a commercial imperative”.  As a pension fund they have a longer term horizon and some real knowledge of the sector with their UK portfolio including Bristol airport.
Paul Kehoe confirms that Birmingham Airport was not put up for sale, with shareholders happy with the current arrangements and any comments previously made on this topic now retracted.
Political Leadership
When looking ahead to their growth plans Paul feels there is much to learn from Manchester’s strategic development approach. 
 “Manchester has managed to sell itself over 20 years through good team leadership at the City Council between their Chief Executive, Sir Howard Bernstein and their Leader Sir Richard Lees. They have created international links by appreciating that you can sell ‘Greater Manchester’ more effectively than Wigan, Salford, or Stockport on their own.  When you get to use the Mercator scale map you can only see big places.  Whilst Walsall, Dudley and Wolverhampton are very important they do not appear on that Mercator map. Together they may represent a 1m population block but we  sell the opportunity that is the Midlands’ 1 hour travel time catchment more effectively.
“Given Manchester’s strong performance and leadership, I’m hoping that Birmingham can benefit by leveraging from the Lib-Con Coalition government mirroring our own City’s Lib-Con coalition in place over the past 6 years. 
“We need to see the creation of a business and political block to deliver real growth meeting the wants and needs of our community – this is essential to sustainable and balanced growth in the West Midlands for the future.  And looking ahead, if the total travel to work area around Birmingham had come together this could have been a better solution to LEP situation, but we are where we are.”
Destination Birmingham
Paul first visited Birmingham in 1979 on a trip to see a friend at Aston University and he remembers thinking it looked tired and run down.  Nearly 30 years later during a trip to the LG Arena he was struck by Birmingham as ‘a transformed city’. “We don’t shout about it enough.  I’m now a big fan of Birmingham and I have a real sense of pride about what the City has achieved.    There’s lots going for it.  It’s great that our City Leader, Mike Whitby, has said we need a plan to take us forward with vision and give us markers to help us get better.  We have great culture, great heritage but we do have areas of deprivation, however, if the whole is doing well then I’m sure it will be easier to fix those areas.”
Birmingham Airport Name Change
It’s perhaps ironic that as many airports get larger they see less need to call themselves ‘international’ with Luton, Bristol and Manchester all dropping the word ‘international’ from their names.  On top of this, there is another Birmingham International in Alabama, USA. “We need to be different,” says Paul.  “We’re looking to our future through our past. It’s very important to us - where we’ve come from.  But we also need to bear in mind where we are and that we’re currently serving 140 routes through direct services and 400 via other connections.  We don’t think we need to say Birmingham Airport is international any longer, it just is.”
So a full name change and re-brand is underway. The rather charming and by now familiar ‘dart’ will go along with the acronym ‘BHX’, with a new web address being launched:
“We put the brand re-design out to a national competition and a firm from Wolverhampton won this, ‘Connect’.  Their brief sums up all those things about a confident future that Birmingham Airport is keen to project.  This is being delivered in the context of service upgrade and re-design. Later in November the new brand will be unveiled, subject to our Board’s approval.  This is about the re-positioning of our airport as an ‘entrepot’ to complement national strategic assets.  Government has delivered us a lifeline by not developing Runway 3 at Heathrow, Runway 2 at Stansted or Gatwick.”
Building Work:
The past year has seen a continued focus on their ongoing investment programme which amounts to £350m since the restructuring in 1997. They have cut back on operating costs whilst not pulling back on marketing or investment in extensive building plans needed to “deliver the right infrastructure for our vision.”
They have invested £50m on a new international pier which is inter-operable between carriers.  Ostensibly a shed on the outside - 240m long, 3 stories, 20m wide - inside it is comparable with any other best-in-class pier, furnished with marble, glass and Scandinavian-style wood finishings.  Their car parks have been upgraded as the customer experience had been considered poor and they have recently completed a £14m investment in new car park facilities with wide ramps and other features, even being named as silver winner in the Best Airport Car Park category of the Holiday Extras Customers’ Awards 2010.
Their latest ongoing project involves merging Terminals 1 and 2, T2 will be connected to T1 by the enlarged ‘Millennium Building’ which will house all Arrivals on the Ground Floor,  and Departure Security on the first floor, effectively merging the two terminals.  We will be losing a Terminal, but gaining a bigger airport which will be operating at 40% capacity so there will be plenty of room for expansion.”
Environmental Challenge
Paul studied geography – the physical sciences focussing on geomorphology and fluvial geography and meteorology.  This was followed with an MBA from Warwick Business School taken 20 years ago.  He’s worked in Civil airports pretty much continuously over the past 20 years, having  run Belfast International, London Luton, Bristol and now Birmingham.
His background in geographical sciences has given him a strong belief in the need to address Climate Change issues urgently.
“Britain does fly more, but we are investing in trains.  Planes are becoming cleaner technologies. This is a massive challenge – and whilst aviation is not the biggest C02 contributor, Climate Change is a huge issue and one I take very seriously. 
“Within the aviation Industry we need to tell our story better and gain greater recognition for the value of aviation. When we had 6 days with no air traffic people certainly recognised the value of air travel then.  We do have an extensive environmental programme at the airport, including a full process assessment resulting, for example, in the Continuous Descent Approach, allowing aircraft to descend using minimum power and delivering over 13,000 tonnes of C02 savings in the past 12 months alone.
“As I said, all the ingredients are starting to come together”.

Click here to find out more! From Birmingham Post 2nd December 2010:

Diverting A45 for Birmingham Airport runway will provide £631m boost to economy

The planned extension of the Birmingham Airport runway and diversion of the A45 will create almost 3,400 new jobs and deliver a £631 million boost to the local economy.
Forecasts produced for Birmingham City Council by consultants Arup suggest that the two projects combined will trigger significant long-term economic and transport benefits, boosting the popularity of knowledge-based business parks around the M42 corridor.
Diverting the A45 Coventry Road to accommodate the runway extension is estimated to cost £32 million. Birmingham City Council is prepared to contribute £15 million, with the rest of the cost likely to be shared by the airport and the West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority Centro. The council stepped in to offer a financial lifeline when a funding package promised by regional development agency Advantage West Midlands collapsed.
Council leaders commissioned the Arup report to demonstrate that spending money on a road scheme in Solihull will bring benefits to Birmingham people. Local authorities are only permitted by law to invest in projects outside of their boundaries if they can show a direct gain.
Arup concluded that even if the runway extension does not go ahead, but the A45 is still diverted, the result will be positive for the economy.
In that case, 1,520 jobs are expected to be created or safeguarded for Birmingham residents, with £164 million in economic input by 2030.
But, if both schemes go ahead the benefits are far greater, according to Arup.
If the runway extension is completed as well as the A45 diversion, about 3,390 jobs are expected to be created or safeguarded for Birmingham residents and the economy will benefit by £631 million over the next 20 years.
But the forecasts were described as “exaggeration” by Friends of the Earth.
West Midlands spokesman Chris Crean said: “We have heard these sorts of figures before. They rarely turn out to be true. We are not saying there won’t be increased economic activity from this project.
“We do say that the A45 is being diverted solely for the benefit of the airport, so the airport should meet the cost and not council taxpayers.”
The analysis suggests the A45 works will provide residents and businesses with £20 million of direct transport benefits through faster journey times. It is proposed to divert the A45 between Damson Parkway and Junction 6 of the M42, providing a dual carriageway in both directions.
A spin-off benefit from the A45 works is likely to involve job creation in parts of east Birmingham, with faster access to regeneration sites.
The report added: “In particular the project will support and improve connectivity between major employment areas and deprived areas of East Birmingham.
“The scheme will result in an additional number of new jobs being created as a consequence of the sites in Birmingham becoming more attractive as well as safeguarding existing employment opportunities through reducing the likelihood of existing firms moving out.’’
“The A45 works will also deliver strategic added value through providing a public transport corridor which will help reduce CO2 emissions, supporting the planned High Speed Rail Terminal and enhancing the image of one of the city’s key gateways.”

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