This month we chat with the charismatic & passionate Glyn Pitchford, chairman of Birmingham Big Art Project about his love for Birmingham
Please introduce yourself
I am Glyn Pitchford, chairman of Birmingham Big Art Project. I have represented business on the Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City Region Board. I am former chairman of BRMB/Capital Gold Radio, Countrywide Homes and an environmental business, Envirotreat. I served on the Council of Aston University and was vice-chairman of Birmingham Civic Society until November 2013.
What does your company do?
I am a practising chartered surveyor arbitrator and run my own consultancy firm.
Is Brum a good place to do business?
Yes. The local authority has been brave enough, through urban regeneration, to change the outsider’s perception of the city. Improvements are apparent in all business and public sectors. We have three top-notch universities each having its own distinctive USPs. We are a green, environmentally friendly city with a strengthening creative sector which is transforming Birmingham into an exciting place to live and work.
What are your biggest gripes with it?
There is a long way to go in integrating all ethnic communities into the general community. It needs every citizen to help achieve this. We have too many organisations portraying themselves as the leading authority in business, as opposed to creating more effective liaison with competing organisations to strengthen the voice of business. We also have the region’s local authorities preferring to paddle their own canoe. I see some signs this is changing for the better, but we are in danger of shooting ourselves in the foot by preferring to call ourselves the West Midlands Combined Authority rather than recognising that Birmingham is at the region’s centre, the engine room. The area would be far more recognisable abroad were we to push Greater Birmingham as the name of the region.
How do you feel your clients see the city?
As a city which has reinvented itself, with modern buildings in traffic-free areas, improving connectivity, a strong retail sector and a growing professional/financial sector second to none outside of London.
Does Birmingham offer any particular advantages as a destination for business?
Its improving connectivity, with HS2 on the way, will greatly enhance the potential for new business. The expanding metro rapid transit tram system will become a terrific asset, and our universities and colleges produce a major source of skilled labour.
What should our priorities be as a city?
To enhance our reputation as the most influential city in the UK after London. It is important to grow our airport so that it connects with all points of the international compass. A vibrant city open for business needs strong branding and public art is an important ingredient. Birmingham Big Art Project aims to raise £2.5million to commission a new contemporary, permanent work of public art to do just that. The work will have a wow factor and become recognisable around the world, improving tourism, attracting inward investment and creating more employment.
If you had £1bn to spend on improving Brum what would you do with it?
Integrate all ethnic communities into the general community, push urban regeneration into the inner suburbs and ensure every corner of the region is broadband connected.