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MP queries Birmingham NEC sell-off denials

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Labour MP Jack Dromey has issued Birmingham City Council with a number of Freedom of Information requests amid claims councillors are planning to sell off the NEC and other assets to Middle East investors.

Last month Council leader Mike Whitby (Con) was forced to deny reports that council-owned NEC Group facilities including Symphony Hall, the National Exhibition Centre and the International Convention Centre (ICC) were under threat.

He said the council was in discussions with international investors and sovereign funds to join “sophisticated public sector/private sector partnerships”, not asset sales.

But Mr Dromey cast doubt on Mr Whitby’s intentions as the Conservative Party conference kicked off this week at the ICC.

He told the Birmingham Post: “I suspect that Mike Whitby has had secret discussions with foreign companies and investors about buying Birmingham’s assets.

“He wants to sell Birmingham’s pride and joy, the product of municipal enterprise working in partnership with the private sector.

“Public investment in the NEC and ICC has generated immense benefits for Birmingham. Does Mike Whitby really want a Gulf state sheikh to buy up Birmingham’s greatest assets?

“The truth must be told and that is why I put down the freedom of information request.”

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