Floozie attack makes you wonder if we can’t have anything nice in Birmingham any more – Graham Young

One imagines the person who turned the freshly-cascading waters of the Floozie in the Jacuzzi into a foam-filled farce hours after it began flowing for the fist time since 2013 thought they were creating some kind of harmless ‘fun’. Or that will be the plea for leniency if the perpetrator is identified from scores of city centre CCTV cameras and hauled before the courts.

But given that filling the Victoria Square fountain with so much foam will cost “thousands of pounds” in repair bills according to Birmingham City Council, one hopes the vandal will have to pay for that out of his or her own pocket. And then some…

Can the city of Birmingham afford to take any other route than to reclaim the cost back, lest another chancer gets any ideas to do something even more stupid? Even more selfish? Even more needless? Like the 2003 torching of Raymond Mason’s Centenary Square statue, Forward, for example… or the scratching of The Bull in 2005, 2006 and 2009.

Read more: Bullring tagging highlights a graffiti ‘pandemic’ across city

As inflation rockets, plenty of council tax payers are struggling to put food on their plates as it is without having to fork out for insolence on top. Imagine how many contributions from your neighbours will now be needed just to fix the Floozie again – and how that money could have been spent.

A list of better uses for that cash could be endless… from housing the homeless, to tackling child abuse, from giving a hard-working dementia patient a better end to their life or higher quality school meals for children.



The Floozie in the Jacuzzi foam attack on May 19, 2022 – the day it was switched back on after nine years – and the torching of the city’s Forward statue on April 17, 2003

Sadly, we’ve been here before. Nineteen years ago, on April 17, 2003, the 30-foot long polyester resin tribute to the generations of Brummies who inspired and then lived up to the city’s 1830s’ motto of Forward was destroyed by an inferno minutes after being torched.

With the Crown Prosecution Service unable to probe that he meant to burn it down, an unnamed teenager escaped prosecution, despite having been said to have used books of free matches from the Rep Theatre to start the fire. Perhaps the city should have sued his family..

And now as the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee approaches for the nation and with the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games little more than 60 days away from beginning in the city on July 28, the lesson for Birmingham – and all city centres elsewhere, in fairness – is clear.

As the following examples of anti-social behaviour illustrate, once a city lets its standards slip, it can be desperately hard to get the vandalism genie – just like the bubble bath – back into the bottle

Walking around the town we all love so dearly makes you wonder sometimes whatever happened to the idea of collective responsibility for the greater good as well as people showing – and sharing – pride in our brilliant city of Birmingham.

If the reborn Floozie is wrecked within hours are we now at the point where we have to think the unthinkable: That we can’t have anything nice in Brum any more?



The scene benath the Floozie in the Jacuzzi after a pranksfer filled the fountain with foam on Thursday, May 19 hours after it had been switched back on after nine yeas by Lord Mayor Muhammad Afzal and council leader Ian Ward
The scene benath the Floozie in the Jacuzzi after a pranksfer filled the fountain with foam on Thursday, May 19 hours after it had been switched back on after nine yeas by Lord Mayor Muhammad Afzal and council leader Ian Ward

1. The Floozie attack – May 19, 2022

Foaming up the Floozie, however harmless the intention or otherwise, came just hours after Dhruva Mistry’s sculpture – officially known as The River – had been switched back on. Having previously been turned into a flower bed for more than five years in July, 2015, it was the first time her waters had flowed for nine years since 2013.

Lord Mayor Muhammad Afzal (Lab, Aston) and, fresh from winning a leadership challenge, council leader Cllr Ian Ward (Lab, Shard End) could not have looked happier as they pressed a red, game-show style plunger to start the flow of water. Within half an hour, the fountain was fully working again as the centrepiece of Victoria Square opened by Princess Diana on May 6, 1993.

Back then, the square had been overlooked by the Brutalist NatWest Tower, now that dull edifice has been replaced by the gleaming 103 Colmore Row which is so new it hasn’t even been fully opened.



Saturday, May 21 - two days after the Floozie in the Jacuzzi fountain was switched back on at 11.30am on Thursday, May 19, people were sitting in The River fountain instead of watching it in full flow. And it was the same on Sunday 22, too
Saturday, May 21 – two days after the Floozie in the Jacuzzi fountain was switched back on at 11.30am on Thursday, May 19, people were sitting in The River fountain instead of watching it in full flow. And it was the same on Sunday 22, too

Having survived a leadership challenge the previous weekend, Cllr Ward could hardly stop smiling as he talked of his joy at trying to give the city a sense of civic pride back after more than five years’ worth of disruption in the area began with work to demolish the Central Library from December 14, 2015.

“I am delighted that we have not only got this fountain going again but I am also delighted that this city is seeing a real renaissance at the moment and long may that continue,” Cllr Ward said.

“We’ve set a new standard for public realm in the city, in Centenary Square and Chamberlain Square. Once the fencing is removed you will see many people in the sunshine sitting around this piece of public art.”

Sadly, because of the damage the foam had caused – and its appearance underground looked like something out of a Stephen King horror film, which could perhaps be called The Foaming – people were sitting IN the fountain on both Saturday and Sunday when its flowing waters should have been delighting families from across the city.



The Forward Statue in Birmingham's Centenary Square was reduced to nothing in a matter of minutes after it was engulfed in flames, 17th April 2003
The Forward Statue in Birmingham’s Centenary Square was reduced to nothing in a matter of minutes after it was engulfed in flames, 17th April 2003

2. The Forward sculpture attack – April 17, 2003

Made from polyester resin, Forward was designed to highlight the city’s march from its industrial past to a bright new future.

Joseph Chamberlain, father of the modern city, was depicted with a monocle, whilst Josiah Mason was carrying books – he had founded the Mason Science College in 1880, the forerunner of the country’s first civic university led by Chancellor Chamberlain – the University of Birmingham (1900).

The formula on the shoulder of the leading figure referred to DNA, representing the continuing advance of scientific discovery thanks to pioneers like the Birmingham-educated scientist, Maurice Wilkins, who’d shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962 for work on DNA.

A free book of matches in the wrong hands put paid to it.



The Bull sculpture outside of the Bullring was attacked in 2005, 2006 and 2009
The Bull sculpture outside of the Bullring was attacked in 2005, 2006 and 2009

3. The Bull statue vandalised – 2005, 2006 and 2009

Nothing says ‘Birmingham’ more than the bronze statue of The Guardian – aka The Bull – outside of the Bullring shopping centre opened in September, 2003.

But a ‘bored’ 27-year-old from Handsworth caused £8,000 worth of damage in 2009 when he attacked it with a key ring.

The statue had previously been damaged in 2005 and 2006 when sculptor Laurence Broderick said the vandal attack had left him “absolutely disgusted”



Graffiti tagging on the Arena Central hoardings on Broad Street close to the West Midlands Metro tram stop that hasn't been in service for weeks and local investments including the revamped Symphony Hall Foyer (£13 million), Centenary Square (£16 million), Library of Birmingham (£188 million) and Paradise (£700 million). The hoardings are between the University of Birmingham's The Exchange centre (opened inside the former Municipal Bank in September, 2021) and the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Graffiti tagging on the Arena Central hoardings on Broad Street close to the West Midlands Metro tram stop that hasn’t been in service for weeks and local investments including the revamped Symphony Hall Foyer (£13 million), Centenary Square (£16 million), Library of Birmingham (£188 million) and Paradise (£700 million). The hoardings are between the University of Birmingham’s The Exchange centre (opened inside the former Municipal Bank in September, 2021) and the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

4. Broad Street tagging – May 22, 2022

It’s only a hoarding for a building site. but Arena Central isn’t any old building site given the local area is part of an ongoing investment of more than £1 billion.

It sits in between the historic, 1930s’ former Municipal Bank – reopened as The Exchange by the University of Birmingham only last September – and the Hyatt Regency Hotel. one of the flagship developments in the late 1980s alongside Brindleyplace.

Across the road, Centenary Square cost £16 million to redevelop from 2017-2019 whilst the new foyer of Symphony Hall – called Making An Entrance – only opened earlier this year at a cost of more than £13 million. On the other side of Centenary Square the £188 million Library of Birmingham. Close to the hoarding is the £149 million Westside extension of the West Midlands Metro and the £700 million investment in Paradise.



March 12, 2021: Tagging at the door of the historic Grade II* terracotta-fronted 1904 Methodist Central Hall on Corporation Street
March 12, 2021: Tagging at the door of the historic Grade II* terracotta-fronted 1904 Methodist Central Hall on Corporation Street

But allowing Digbeth to be covered in tagging in recent years, the practice has spread to many corners of the city including even highly-visible landmark terracotta-faced buildings such as The White Swan pub on Bradford Street and the Methodist Central Hall on Corporation Street as well as the canals of Brindleyplace today.

When BirminghamLive has highlighted specific examples of tagging – such as the outside of Debenhams former Bulling store facing Smallbrook Queensway, the city council’s response is usually along the lines of … “tagging is often a blight on our communities, which shows no respect or regard for the shared environment we have to live and work in. Graffiti is an issue taken seriously within the resources we have available, with the removal of offensive messaging given priority, but there is very much a responsibility for private property owners to do their bit in relation to their buildings too.”

That much is also true. But, as things stand, the practice has been allowed to become so commonplace is now clearly just keeps on snowballing anywhere and everywhere.



Litter on Lower Temple Street opposite Grand Central at 2.30pm on Sunday, May 22 - within days of new 'Welcome to Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games' posters going on display on nearby bollards
Litter on Lower Temple Street opposite Grand Central at 2.30pm on Sunday, May 22 – within days of new ‘Welcome to Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games’ posters going on display on nearby bollards

5. City litter – May 22, 2022

To their credit, more and more people across the city are acquiring litter pickers and creating groups to try to combat the amount of rubbish which so detracts from the city’s remarkably-green credential and Tree City of the World status.

Birmingham City Council has also upped its game in recent years, creating booking slots at its household recycling centres so that you know exactly when you will get in.

With new signs being put on display welcoming people to the city for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, you can expect more litter will be cleaned up from the city centre’s streets this summer than ever before thanks to a fleet of smaller bin lorries and mini-sweepers.



November 22, 2021: Rubbish dumped illegally on Tamfourd Street, Small Heath
November 22, 2021: Rubbish dumped illegally on Tamfourd Street, Small Heath

But only this Sunday, May 22 – and just yards from one of these new welcome posters – there was litter all over the floor of Lower Temple Street opposite Grand Central, next to a bin.

Litter teams would be on their way across the centre before too long, but if you were walking out of New Street Station at that moment and that was your first ‘Welcome’ to the city centre, what would your all-important ‘first impression’ be?

Other pictures we’ve taken in recent years – including the extreme one above from Small Heath last November – also defy belief in terms of people tarnishing what should be a vibrant, go-ahead, modern city where, if everyone took an equal pride in their surroundings we would all feel so much better off.



The 45 Church Street building in the Colmore Business Dis
The 45 Church Street building in the Colmore Business Dis

6. Building attack – May 19, 2022

An office block on 45 Church Street has been targeted twice in recent weeks, with windows smashed and (thankfully removable) red paint sprayed everywhere – most recently in the early hours of the morning before dawn on the same day of the Floozie attack.

The 14-storey, 196ft tower has terraces on levels three and ten and some offices have views over towards the Jewellery Quarter.

Four years ago on June 2, 2018, we featured the building in a feature called ’10 huge Birmingham buildings you see every day but don’t know what they are’.

Whatever anyone is protesting about, smashing windows in the Colmore Business District is not an ideal way of trying to encourage Commonwealth Games visitors to come to Birmingham ready to invest in our future, unlimited potential for the greater good.



St Luke's Church on Bristol Street prior to demolition in 2018 and the new beige houses being built behind its former site
St Luke’s Church on Bristol Street prior to demolition in 2018 and the new beige houses being built behind its former site

7. Demolition jobs – various

In the name of progress, the city has permitted several notable buildings to have been demolished in the past decade, eroding the heritage of what the city is all about and where it came from even though the National Trust’s Back to Backs site (currently closed for repairs) illustrates the public’s thirst for history.

Instead of being transformed, once landmarks are demolished they are gone forever and the current cluttered view over towards the ongoing developments near to Masshouse offers no guarantees that lessons have been learned in terms of how our new buildings can have any kind of long-term residual cultural value over and above their ability to generate potentially short-term income.



A 2012 protest to save Island House fell on deaf ears
February 1, 2012: A heartfelt protest to save Island House next to the new Hotel La Tour fell on deaf ears.

Apart from John Madin’s Central Library – an ambitious, upside-down ziggurat! – among the notable buildings to have gone are Island House in between Park Street and Moor Street Queensway, St Luke’s Church on Bristol Street, the Eagle & Tun pub on New Canal Street and a former Victorian music hall on Park Street.

Other John Madin buildings to have been demolished include Pebble Mill and the former Post & Mail building with tower on Colmore Circus.

As the Commonwealth Games approaches it’s a crying shame The Crown pub on Station Street is still being tagged or fly-posted, eight years after it closed suddenly in June, 2014 when Owners Admiral sold the building to a Japanese developer during the Brazil World Cup.



The Crown on Station Street - the venue where Ozzy Osbourne took to a stage for the first time - with Earth, later renamed as Black Sabbath. The venue has been closed since the middle of June, 2014 when owners Admiral sold it during the Brazil World Cup. Developers have been sitting on the birthplace of heavy metal ever since.
The Crown on Station Street – the venue where Ozzy Osbourne took to a stage for the first time – with Earth, later renamed as Black Sabbath. The venue has been closed since the middle of June, 2014 when owners Admiral sold it during the Brazil World Cup. Developers have been sitting on the birthplace of heavy metal ever since.

Thanks to this pub being the first venue where Black Sabbath legend Ozzy Osbourne stepped on to the stage with the band that was then still called Earth, this building should be Birmingham’s rock and roll museum celebrating the birthplace of heavy metal. Instead of being the equivalent of The Cavern which Liverpool mistakenly allowed to be demolished before building a fake version, developers have been allowed to sit on it without doing anything.

Jez Collins, who is collaborating on the cultural side of the Commonwealth Games, says: “The Crown on Station Street should have been the No.1 tourist attraction for visitors to the Games, with ’boutique hotel’ rooms named after Ozzy Osbourne and fellow Black Sabbath stars Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward – we should be celebrating people from this city who have had an impact in music.”



The Floozie surrounded by foam on Thursday, May 19, hours after being switched on for the first time in nine years since 2013
The Floozie in the Jacuzzi surrounded by foam on Thursday, May 19, hours after being switched on for the first time in nine years since 2013

Floozie statement

On Monday, May 23, Birmingham City Council said of the Floozie attack: “An act of vandalism carried out last Thursday (May 19) – on the day The River was switched on again – has caused significant disruption to the plant room which operates the feature.

“This is very disappointing and means residents and visitors to Birmingham are unable to enjoy one of the city’s most loved pieces of public art.

“Repairs are being carried out and although we are unable to give an exact number at this stage, this is likely to cost the people of Birmingham thousands of pounds.

“We will ensure the feature is operational once again as soon as possible and would urge anyone with any information about the mindless vandalism to contact us, so those responsible can be brought to justice.”

Read more:The weirdest buildings in and around Broad Street

Read more: Jubilee weekend in Birmingham and West Midlands – all the events, street parties, big lunches and more

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