As you may or may not know, Birmingham City Council own the Montgomery Street Business Centre where I run my business from, alongside 29 other small enterprises. It is the last of such sites in the city, unique in that the units are small & affordable.
The site has been threatened with being sold since November last year with one sale falling through and more recently an auction of the site being scheduled for December 11th to try once again to sell it.
Today after a meeting with BCC the Business Centre has been removed from the auction. This was mainly because the Montgomery Street Cooperative (A Not For Profit Limited Company) have lodged an application for an Asset of Community Value with the council. An ACV (if granted) makes it very difficult to sell a site to developers.
In the prospectus for the sale the site was declared by council leader Ian Ward to be "Surplus." As you can imagine this came as some surprise to the 30 small businesses who occupy the site employing 80 people!
The site has been allowed to fall into disrepair & the electronic security gate has been broken for at least 2 years, leaving the site & it's occupants vulnerable as it is a magnet for drug dealers & users. The refuse skip (for which we pay the council) is also a target for fly tippers, at times we cannot use it ourselves as rubbish overflows around it, leaving the site an eyesore for visitors.
Our plight has been brought to public attention via local media this past week & we have support from local Councillors Tahir Ali & Shabrana Hussain & Izzy Knowles (Lib Dem candidate) to whom we are very grateful.
We have another meeting in January & have a business plan in place. there is no guarantee that the site will not be put up for auction again in February, as the application for an ACV does not mean we will get one, although we would appeal.
We will need to raise funds both to continue the campaign (eg publicity, expenses, instructing a solicitor) & to lessen the burden of repayments of loans should we secure purchase & self management of the site.
To this end we have started a - Go Fund Me
We have a petition - Save Montgomery Street Business Centre
We are also on Twitter - @MontgomeryCoop
Any support you can give us in our campaign to save this site (& thus our livelihoods) both for the current occupiers & for future generations would be greatly appreciated.