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Tilsley TV interview is pulled.

Byline: By Paul Dale Chief Reporter

An interview in which the deputy leader of Birmingham City Council sought to justify the local authority's refusal to make a financial donation towards a heritage centre in the Elan Valley has been pulled from television screens.

Paul Tilsley said he was not happy with the content of his half-hour grilling on Biztv's Now You're Talking series, which profiles influential West Midlands executives.

In an unscreened tape of the interview, which has been seen by The Birmingham Post, Coun Tilsley (Lib Dem Sheldon) suggested that the people of the Elan Valley in Mid-Wales should give recognition to Birmingham for building huge reservoirs and flooding pasture land 101 years ago.

The project, which has supplied Birmingham's drinking water for almost a century, injected capital investment into a poor area and ultimately benefited tenant farmers, Coun Tilsley suggested.

He told Biztv interviewer Adrienne Lawler: "Before Birmingham turned up in the valley they were all tenant farmers, very, very badly off.

"The capital investment that Birmingham made in the valleys, employing people who were local, allowed them to buy their farms and turn their lives around.

"There was a trade off."

His analysis of what happened was described as a "very questionable interpretation of history" by Peter Cox, chairman of CARAD, the organisation attempting to raise pounds 550,000 to build an Elan Valley museum and heritage centre.

Mr Cox said: "The majority of tenant farmers were evicted and turned out on to the road with nothing."

During the interview, Coun Tilsley also attempted to take credit for suggesting that CARAD approach Severn Trent for funding after the council refused to make a contribution.

"Because of my suggestion they got pounds 50,000," he said.

In fact, the Severn Trent donation was pounds 10,000 and the company had been approached by CARAD before the council even considered a request for funding.

Coun Tilsley stated several times during the interview that the council had refused to make a donation following legal advice on the grounds that the museum would not be of direct benefit to Birmingham.

He said the "City of Birmingham" would match Severn Trent's financial contribution.

Last night Coun Tilsley explained that he had asked Biztv not to screen the interview without editing because he was unhappy at the interviewer's apparent "lack of understanding" of how local government works.

Other topics covered in the interview included the super casino debate, the development of Eastside, the expansion of Birmingham International Airport, the refurbishment of New Street Station and the appointment of Stephen Hughes as Birmingham City Council chief executive.

At one stage Coun Tilsley was asked whether he had ever considered becoming chief executive.

Coun Tilsley said: "There didn't seem to be any depth to the questions or understanding of local government. The interview seemed to major on issues that were not the main thrust of local government."

Adrienne Lawler said Coun Tilsley had given the impression that the 100 families thrown out of their homes by the Elan Valley reservoir project should have been grateful to Birmingham.

She said the interview had been conducted on the understanding that Coun Tilsley would have no veto over it. Comment, Page 12


Councillor Paul Tilsley talking to Adrienne Lawler on Biztv
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jun 16, 2006
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