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Tory conference journalists to be given Birmingham’s ‘good news’ story

Tory conference journalists to be given Birmingham’s ‘good news’ story

🕔25.Sep 2014

Chief blogger Paul Dale discovers Birmingham Matters as the city puts its best foot forward and takes advantage of the media circus setting up camp with airtime, web pages and column inches to fill. 

Journalists attending the Conservative party conference are to be handed an ‘all you need to know about us’ pack that paints Birmingham as a vibrant and booming city on the way up.

With international media camped at the ICC from this Sunday to Wednesday, council bosses are taking the opportunity to present the city as “one of the most attractive places in the world to do business.”

Birmingham is benefiting from the largest investment in infrastructure for a generation, is “making waves” and competing with leading global destinations, according to the document.

It goes on: “There is a real buzz about Birmingham at the moment. With a 57 per cent rise in foreign investment projects in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP (GBSLEP) area – more than any other English region – the local economy is reaping the benefits of work to make the region one of the most attractive places in the world to do business.

“Named as the UK’s most entrepreneurial city outside of London; the FDI Destination of the Future by industry leading FDI Magazine; listed in the top three ‘Best to Invest’ locations in Western Europe; and the most attractive UK regional city for quality of life, interest and momentum in Birmingham is building.”

The pack, perhaps wisely, does not dwell on the other side of Birmingham away from the glitzy ICC and Brindleyplace – chronic unemployment, a below average skills base, and some of the worst social deprivation in the country.

It sticks instead to a glowing account of Birmingham’s growing reputation as a tourist destination, with 34 million visitors attracted last year. The amount of money spent by visitors hit £5.3 billion, according to the document.

With numbers rising by a third (32%) in the last year alone, Birmingham’s growth in attracting visitors is higher than any other city in the UK. The national growth of international visits was just 5.6 per cent, while London managed 8.6 per cent.

The pack lists 15 “exciting events” that will take place in 2015:

Birmingham New Street Station £600million redevelopment completed. Birmingham’s New Street Station annual passenger capacity is set to increase to 52 million a year. The redevelopment will transform the centre of the nation’s rail network into a spectacular 21st century hub.

Grand Central Birmingham opens, including the flagship John Lewis store. High end shopping complex Grand Central will boast over 60 new premium shops, restaurants and cafes, including the largest John Lewis store outside of the capital.

£50million redevelopment completed at leisure and retail destination The Mailbox. The former Royal Mail sorting office will offer the ultimate luxury shopping experience, including a new, larger Harvey Nichols, as well as a boutique cinema.

£150million integrated leisure complex Resorts World opens. The UK’s first integrated destination leisure complex at the NEC will include a 170 room four star hotel, 11-screen cinema, The Vox Conference Centre and a casino.

Midland Metro £127million extension completed. The Midland Metro will be extended from its current terminus at Birmingham Snow Hill station into the heart of the city, revolutionising the way people travel to and around Birmingham.

Birmingham’s accommodation sector to be boosted by 1,000 more bedrooms. Developments including Park Regis Birmingham – a 4 star, 300 room hotel – are set to open in the city, giving event organisers even more choice.

Rugby World Cup 2015 matches at Villa Park. Villa Park will host matches involving Australia and South Africa when the global rugby tournament takes place in England and Wales in the autumn.

Birmingham Royal Ballet 25th anniversary.  The ballet was formed in 1990 and now has a devoted and growing audience at its base at the Birmingham Hippodrome theatre. It is also welcomed enthusiastically around the world, with successful tours to countries including the US, China and Japan.

£26million redevelopment completed at live entertainment venue, the National Indoor Arena. The NIA’s modernisation will take advantage of its unique location on the city’s canal side, providing an enhanced experience to promoters, artists and visitors to Birmingham.

£20million refurbishment of Selfridges department store at Bullring. The store, one of Birmingham’s most distinctive landmarks, will be transformed, maximising the flow of the shopping experience and giving added vibrancy to its surroundings.

300 year anniversary of Birmingham Cathedral. The cathedral, which has been at the heart of the city’s Anglican faith since 1715, is planning a year-long series of events to celebrate its birthday.

England v Australia Ashes Test match cricket at Edgbaston Stadium. Edgbaston Stadium will host the Third Test of the 2015 Ashes series with more than 100,000 fans expected across the five days of play from 29 July.

World famous Tolkien Middle Earth Weekend.  The festival, which celebrates Birmingham’s status as the home of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, returns with thousands expected to attend Sarehole Mill, one of the inspirations behind JRR Tolkien’s novels.

Iconic Rotunda building celebrates its 50th anniversary. The Grade II listed Rotunda, more than 80 metres in height, is one of Birmingham’s most recognisable buildings. The building was refurbished in 2008 and now houses boutique apartments company Staying Cool.

Contemporary art gallery Ikon celebrates its 50th anniversary. Ikon is one of Birmingham’s leading contemporary art galleries located in Brindleyplace. The gallery was first established in 1965 in a glass-walled kiosk in the city’s old Bullring shopping centre.

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