Birmingham City Council may be forced into fire sale of assets to balance the books

ITV News Central's Lucy Kapasi reports on the future of Birmingham City Council's assets.

Birmingham City Council could be forced to sell off its assets in order to generate funds to help its dire financial situation.

The council filed a Section 114 notice on 5 September, meaning that Europe's largest devolved local authority has essentially filed for bankruptcy.

As part of this notice, the council has halted non-essential spending and will not allow any new expenditure as it struggles to pay an equal pay settlement worth £760m.

Last week the government confirmed that commissioners will be appointed to take over the council, whilst Michael Gove announced that he will also launch a local inquiry into the authority.

The council then effectively declared itself bankrupt for the second time after it failed to tackle equal pay claims.

Birmingham City Council currently holds a 7% share in Birmingham Airport which could be sold, similarly to the sale of its stake in the NEC in 2014.

Andy Street described the council's share in the airport as 'lucrative', but says the city's "cultural gems need to be protected in public ownership."

The council could also sell Birmingham Library or make a leaseback deal, where the council would sell the building to a third party who agrees to lease it back to the council.

It would be the second time the venue has been affected by the council's financial problems. A year after it opened in 2013, the library's opening hours were reduced by almost half to save approximately £1.5 million a year.

Some of Birmingham's most famous buildings, from its library to its art gallery, are at risk of being sold. Credit: ITV News Central

Two years on from the Commonwealth Games, when £72 million was spent on its refurbishment, the Alexander Stadium could be at risk.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery could also be sold as the council owns both the building and its collections.

To reassure the public, the museum posted on social media, stating: “Recent coverage about the future of the museums is speculation. We will continue to care for and protect the city’s cultural heritage on behalf of the people of Birmingham.”

The council also owns around £2.4 billion in property, including the historic council house in Victoria Square and around 26,000 acres of land and 6,500 property assets (not including housing, infrastructure and schools). All of which could potentially now be sold to generate funds.

Social Historian, Professor Carl Chinn, says he would be "appalled" to see the city's historical buildings sold.

He said: "They don't belong to the council, they don't belong to Mr Gove, they don't belong to the Mayor, they belong to the people of Birmingham."

Charities in Birmingham say they are worried about their future if they cannot rely on council funding. Credit: ITV News Central

Kynton Swingle from the Fox Hollies Community Association says he is worried because the charity relies on council grants to do vital work in the the community.

"We work in one of the most deprived area of England and the impact is going to be catastrophic," he said.

"We support programmes like warm spaces and clubs for children in the holidays.

"We're a small business, a growing social enterprise, that communicates with young people on a weekly basis. We recently submitted a grant application to the council and decided to withdraw it because we realised we couldn't rely on them."

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