She spoke at the Council House just before the Attwood Awards were given:
Three subjects close to Attwood’s heart and which the Thomas Attwood Society aim to further today are de-centralised democracy, the strengthening of regional economies and economic and monetary reform.
If we look at the strengthening of regional economies then the three awardees – Keith Budden, Jon Morris and Matthew Rhodes – have certainly created a project Attwood would be proud of.
The project itself manages to offer benefits to both individual households and regional businesses through the implementation of energy saving options. This will mean more business for local industry and reduced energy bills for the householders – definitely a win win scenario. In turn this will generate extra cash which will be an additional bonus for the locality, because if we have more money then we spend more money.
The long term indication for this project is impressive and I hope the 25 year income stream is realized.
I am aware that in the past there was the Warm Front scheme which was available to those on lower incomes. However there are an awful lot of people that fall in the middle – not on the lowest incomes and not particularly wealthy – who would not have been eligible for this scheme, and yet for whom a retrofit or replacement heating is dauntingly expensive. This project has the potential to encompass the full economic spectrum of households across the region.
The emphasis on a local supply chain is something I personally applaud. Too often we as a society have contributed to the demise of Birmingham and UK based businesses by spending our money elsewhere – our Automotive sector is the most obvious example of this and we all know it’s history. This project is a step forward rather than a step backwards and the emphasis on the local supply chain will make a difference to the big business monopolies.
Thomas Attwood’s attack on breaking the monopoly of the East India Company was incredibly successful and showed that Birmingham manufacturers, with the correct support in place, could ensure success in both a national and a global framework. Attwood demonstrated that Birmingham could lead the way forward and this is a sentiment I certainly subscribe to. I also believe that this project epitomizes these ideals and that Birmingham will once again be setting a gold standard for the UK.
Or perhaps, to stay on topic, not a gold standard per se (Attwood have been horrified since he fought against the gold standard) but certainly a world class standard.
We are still in recession, and whilst money is incredibly important we can’t lose sight of other issues which are equally important, such as community.
In a democratic country, community should be at the forefront of our ideals, and community encompasses everyone from an SME such as ourselves where our community is our colleagues and their families, to the wider, local community where our factory is based, to the global community where our finishes are used. The Birmingham Political Union fronted by Attwood was instrumental in bringing democracy to the ordinary man, and today the manufacturer is more of an extra-ordinary man (or woman) as we have watched as whole industries have died around us. This project gives us the opportunity to encourage diversification and investment; to manufacture the future.
Whilst tonight we are not meeting in the sandpit in George Street*, but in much more luxurious surroundings, I am heartened by the wide variety of professions in this room. Together we prove that manufacturing, the environment, local Government and all professions within our community can came together through projects such as this to allow Birmingham to continue to lead locally, nationally, and globally.#