Meeting and listening to partners, influencers and leaders
As we’ve begun another busy week for Birmingham City Council, I’ll just take a few moments to reflect on what has been a whirlwind start to my time as the leader of Birmingham City Council.
In the three weeks since being elected leader of the city’s Labour group I’ve met and spoken to many of the partners, influencers and leaders who can play a vital role as we develop a new approach here in Birmingham.
We can learn a lot from best-practice working elsewhere in local government and last week I headed to South Wales to learn about Newport city council’s Integrated Family Support Service – a pioneering social services partnership with Barnardo’s.
I see it as one of my key roles to help us learn from other councils – especially in the vital area of building, developing and sustaining partnerships.
Our partnerships – both here in Birmingham and further afield – will play a key role as we re-design services for a Future Council that can better serve individuals and communities across the city.
We can no longer complacently claim to have all the answers and we must listen to others if we expect to be listened to ourselves.
I’ve discussed policing with soon-to-be chief constable, David Thompson and West Midlands Police deputy chief constable, Marcus Beale. The latter meeting included a full counter-terrorism briefing.
I’ve also had meetings with senior Government figures – Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, Marcus Jones (DCLG), Lord Heseltine, and Business Secretary Sajid Javid.
On a local and regional front I’ve met neighbouring council leaders Darren Cooper (Sandwell), Mike Bird (Walsall), Roger Lawrence (Wolverhampton) and of course Shadow West Midlands Combined Authority chair Bob Sleigh (Solihull). Slightly further afield I met Nottingham City Council leader, Jon Collins, to discuss the Midlandas Engine.
Of course not all our partners will come from the worlds of central or local government and it would be a mistake to take too narrow an approach.
The city’s business community has a big part to play and I’ve had positive and contructive discussions with chamber of commerce chief executive Paul Faulkner and with Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP chair, Andy Street.
This week, in addition to the hugely important Independent Improvement Panel meeting, I get to talk to the people of Birmingham about our budget consultation.
Our public meetings and webcasts are an opportunity for everyone to have a say as we make vital decisions about the future of services at a time of ever-shrinking budgets.
I would urge you to get involved in this consultation and to give us your ideas about how to run the City Council better and how to make the savings we need to make. Thank you for your contribution to that process.
See the consultation document here: http://birminghamnewsroom.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Business-Plan-and-Budget-16-Consultation-Document-FINALVERSION_updateBP-.pdf
Have your say in the consultation: http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/brumbudget16