I have no idea what Covent Garden of the Midlands actually means?

But it is, apparently, one of the ideas put forward in Lichfield’s bid for £2m in funding and to become one of the 24 Portas Pilot towns. I can hazard a guess about what the thinking behind the Covent Garden reference refers to, but I’d rather not.

I am delighted that the city has put forward a seemingly strong bid for the funding.

Not Lichfield

And yet I can’t help but get a little worried when comparisons are made with other cities and towns. Surely Lichfield deserves to be recognised in its own right, rather than “The New…” or, indeed “The Poor Man’s…”.

The whole idea of the Portas Review, the pilot towns and the funding pot is to enable our towns and cities to regain their identity and wrestle back what sets them apart from the plethora of identikit and cloned High Streets that now infest the UK.

So creating a Covent Garden in miniature does not make a whole load of sense.

But creating a city centre that builds on the rich heritage of Lichfield, the development and regeneration opportunities, the wide catchment area, the good transport links and the numerous other plus points, would strengthen the case for a share of the funding and secure a brighter future.

The Covent Garden of the Midlands is a typical piece of spin that we see on a depressingly frequent basis these days, but it might not do us too many favours when measuring the bid against the criteria. Surely Lichfield would benefit from a far more pragmatic approach, one based firmly in reality?

Lichfield has enough character and potential to assert its own identity, with a push in the right direction from Portas. It doesn’t need the spin.

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4 responses »

  1. Philip John says:

    I’d have to defer to others on exactly what Covent Garden is like but the mention in the Portas Pilot application refers to the strong markets (a significant feature of the Portas review) and entertainment which makes the place very vibrant.

    Lichfield certainly has all the ingredients already (plenty of heritage, arts, music, quality shops) but I think the application provides the strategic direction bit (also prominent in the Portas review) that can bring it all together.

    Key pieces for me are the improved, and more frequent (and themed), market stalls and the semi-permanent performance area for the market square.

    Lichfield has also been given £100k for supporting rate reductions, which will help independently of the Portas thing but could be complimented by the lobbying element we included around rent & rates.

    • Paul Groves says:

      That sounds spot on, so why not just leave it at that?
      Attaching a label adds nothing, other than a level of expectation that Lichfield and this bid does not need.
      It could also set the city up for a big fall.

      • Philip John says:

        Because it’s too long :) that short ‘tagline’ gives an instant impression of what we’re trying to achieve that then leads into the explanation that Lichfield already has everything we need – it just needs a bit of help and a town team to bring it together.

      • Paul Groves says:

        I know I’ve made a career out of it, but I do wish the snappy title and PR spin had been dropped at this stage…I’m never happy! But I think it is a strong bid and does deserve to be successful.

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