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Results tagged “martin yardley” from Coventry Telegraph - Talking Politics

IN 2009, I met two fashionable architect dudes from Los Angeles who were surprisingly set to shape the historic rebuilding of Coventry city centre.

In February that year, the trendy designers from L.A. firm Jerde - Stuart Berriman and David Sheldon - unveiled their stunning final vision of an English city centre for the 21st century.

Their prescription amounted to a massive £1billion injection to breathe new life into an ageing and tired post-war city centre, once famed across Europe for the innovation of then city architect Sir Donald Gibson.

With Jerde's help, Coventry City Council leaders were acting out of alarm over the city centre's declining retail performance. They also sought a shot-in-the-arm to rejuvenate the central area's dying nightlife.

Coventry people in a public consultation seemed to like Jerde's juxtaposition of futuristic design concepts and the city's medieval and post-war architecture, alongside a flowing resurrected Sherbourne "river" - all under cascading roof-top gardens the size of seven football pitches.

Yet, amid the excitement, people also spotted the giant elephant in the room.

The UK had officially entered recession just four weeks before. The previous year's global banking collapse and credit crunch had signalled the end of credit-fueled boom.

WITH largely ineffectual proposals to curb executive pay dominating national headlines, a local row broke out over our reporting of highly paid council bosses' trip to a conference in a luxurious French resort.

"Nice Work If You Cannes Get It," screamed a sub-editor's headline, alongside the beaming visage of Coventry City Council chief executive Martin Reeves, whose total remuneration is £215,000 - one of 23 officers whose earnings hit six figures (£2.5 million combined).

I'm sure it is a nice trip - with council taxpayers potentially paying £4,600 for four executives to join sponsoring businesses in the city's 20-strong delegation.

That's not to deny there's important work to be done - of schmoozing and persuading Europe's property investors to bring much-needed jobs to Coventry.

That task provides one important measure of whether executives can justify their large pay with results.

The Daily Mail, predictably, leapt on our story. Its website readers characteristically dismissed it as a jolly for public sector fat-cats who don't "create wealth".

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