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Great concern has now been expressed by Birmingham’s conservationists at the 23rd February 2010 Council approved Budget plan to disband Birmingham City Council Conservation Department, in order to save Â£350,000 a year. Here is one recent piece in The Birmingham Post:
The Council has a ‘Conservation Panel’ of local conservationists who work with the Conservation Department. The Chair of this panel, Cllr Paula Smith was, herself, so concerned at the plans to disband the Department that she went against her party in abstaining from voting for this measure. Birmingham’s Conservation officers are highly trained and experienced not only in Conservation work, but, more specifically in Conservation work in Birmingham. They know the history of the areas they work with, and they know many of the active voluntary conservationists among the residents; residents who are used to being able to contact the Conservation Department with their concerns and speak to ‘their’ local officers.
There have now been assurances that Birmingham’s Conservation officers will continue but they will be ‘absorbed’ into the general Planning Department. This is unlikely to be satisfactory. There seems a real danger that much of the time conservation officers will no longer be engaged on conservation work, at a time when we are already seriously behind on city conservation projects. Very recently Acocks Green councillors and concerned residents were told that plans to designate an area in Acocks Green as a Conservation Area had been put back from six months to eighteen months, because of the huge backlog of work, and other projects in the pipeline. This is not just about Acocks Green, though. This is a city wide petition. How much Conservation work will happen anywhere in the city after the disbanding of the Department. How many of our fine buildings will we now lose?