52 Days with Team Birmingham
So 52 days into my leadership of the city council (not that I’m counting!) and the hectic schedule shows no sign of easing up.
I’m not complaining though. On the contrary, the more people I meet, the more I am reminded of two things:
- We live in a remarkable city full of remarkable people who want to make a difference.
- Citizens, businesses, faith groups, charities and community organisations care passionately about Birmingham and desperately want the best for our city and the people living here.
Since I last posted an update on my diary I’ve continued to have productive meetings with people who share my commitment to a successful Birmingham.
So from the world of business, I’ve had talks with David Caro from the Federation of Small Businesses, Michele Wilby of Colmore Bid, Neil Rami at Marketing Birmingham and the members of Find it in Birmingham.
The latter meeting was to discuss our budget consultation and, staying with that consultation, either side of Christmas my cabinet colleagues and I attended a range of public events to discuss the very difficult spending decisions we’re having to make at Birmingham City Council.
We held three public meetings and were also online for two round table webcasts where we answered questions submitted by residents.
Not surprisingly we faced a number of very challenging questions as people voiced concerns about the latest cuts in central government funding. But, despite the understandable fears and in some cases anger, the meetings and webcasts were very constructive. Above all, the feedback underlined just how much people care about Birmingham City Council services.
I’ve already written about my meeting with Children’s Society CEO Matthew Reed to discuss developing a Free School Meals Trust in Birmingham and work continues on that project.
I made it clear when I became leader in December that I want to get out and about to meet people and organisations across the city. So I’ve met Birmingham Open Spaces Forum members at Cotteridge Park to discuss their invaluable work in our parks and green spaces. I’ve visited businesses owners in Bordesley Green who are working with us to tackle litter problems.
One thing that unites all these people is their passion and that passion was in evidence once again on New Year’s Day when I visited a number of fantastic organisations helping the homeless and vulnerable in our city centre. I was subsequently proud to join many of these organisations at Birmingham Food Drive on January 9.
The committed people at Birmingham Food Drive are doing amazing things to help Brummies in need – many of whom are undoubtedly victims of austerity.
One of the ways Birmingham will recover from that austerity is through innovation and technology, so I’ve also had a constructive meeting with David Lock and Charlotte Crossley of Innovation Birmingham Campus. The Innovation Birmingham team focusses on helping innovators and tech entrepreneurs succeed – something that is key to our future success as a city.
I’m proud of the fact that Birmingham is a city of many communities. It is also a city of many faiths and I’ve recently met Adam Hardy and Archbishop Longley from the Roman Catholic Diocese . I was also an honoured guest at New Bigley Hall’s Mawlid celebrations to mark the birth of the Prophet.
It’s been a whirlwind start but I’m not complaining. Building a better Birmingham is a team effort and I’m delighted to be working with such amazing team mates.