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Phoenix Cash Cannot Be Diverted

Money for the Phoenix Initiative in Coventry cannot be diverted to other projects in the city centre, despite claims from opponents of the scheme.

A leading city councillor today issued a call for those campaigning against the Phoenix Initiative to stop misleading people about the funding for the project.

Some people have been calling for the money to instead be used to transfer the Coventry Hippodrome into a civic hall. The Hippodrome is due to be demolished in the summer.

Jonathan Adams, Millennium Commission Regional Manager, stressed that the cash from the Millennium Commission should be spent on building Millennium Place and a new entrance to the Museum of British Road Transport.

Millennium Place

He added:

“Failure to do so would be an event of default under the contract and The Millennium Commission reserves the right to withdraw grant and clawback any grant paid should circumstance arise."

 Cllr Dave Batten, cabinet member (Development and Renewal) said he hoped the speculation and rumour-mongering would end. He said:

“I sincerely hope that people will see that both councillors and our officers, have been telling the truth with regard to this particular issue and we cannot, however much people ask or shout, spend the money on something else.

“The project is about more than just knocking down the Gala Bingo Hall building and putting a clock on the floor.

“The amount of interest, both from Coventry people and visitors alike, now being shown in the project, is remarkable.

“Following positive national TV coverage on Channel 4's Time Team programme approaching 1,000 people have visited the site to view Priory Gardens and the undercroft of the old Priory down Hill Top.

“Over 2,500 people enjoyed visiting the Gardens two weeks ago when the Archbishop blessed the statue of Our Lady of Coventry.”

“None of this would have happened without the Phoenix Initiative. It shows just how the Phoenix Initiative can and will make a big difference to the city centre."

Demolition work on the Gala Bingo Hall building is expected to start in July. Gala are planning to build a new Bingo Hall adjacent to Pool Meadow bus and coach station.

Chris Beck, Phoenix Initiative project director, said:

"There is a definite buzz building about the project now, judging from the increased interest around and the numbers of visitors I see from my window coming along to the site to have a peek at what's going on."

The next planned stage is the completion and opening of the Priory Garden and Cloister Garden on 14 April, which will tie-in with the re-opening of Holy Trinity Church.

The overall aim of the whole Phoenix Initiative site is to create a walkway of 1,000 years of Coventry history.

This walkway will stretch from the Priory Gardens and archaeological site on Hill Top, down through the Priory Place bars and restaurants development, linking to the new Millennium Place and a new entrance to the Motor Museum.

The final link will be the dramatic glass bridge over a revamped Lady Herbert's Garden and into the Garden of International Friendship.

It is anticipated the whole project will be completed in the autumn of 2002.

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CWN / Politics / Coventry City Council / 26 Mar 01
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