Monthly Archives: July 2016
Birmingham City Council leader Cllr John Clancy has urged new Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to put improved transport links between the UK’s major cities at the top of his ‘to-do’ list.
In his capacity as Core Cities Cabinet Member for Transport, Cllr Clancy has welcomed Mr Grayling’s support for the high-speed HS2 rail project. He has also highlighted the importance of the Bus Services Bill currently being debated by MPs and Peers.
Cllr Clancy joined the new Secretary of State at last week’s Midlands Connect meeting in Derby and has now written to Patrick McLoughlin’s replacement in the Transport portfolio, urging him to put cities at the heart of post-Brexit planning.
He said: “Core Cities and their wider urban areas already make a fantastic contribution to UK Plc. They are responsible for 25 per cent of the UK economy and are home to 19 million people. Our ten cities are modern, dynamic and culturally diverse places that we believe hold the key to solving the UK’s most intractable economic and social problems.
“But we still need to do more to unlock the full potential of our cities and their surrounding areas, particularly as we enter an uncertain post-Brexit economic environment. Given the right tools for the job – including better transport infrastructure – we can narrow the productivity gap between ourselves and the UK average, putting an extra £66bn into the economy each year.”
He added: “We cannot pull back commitments already in the pipeline like Northern Powerhouse, Midlands Engine and Great Western Cities. In fact, our view is that we must go much further to create an effective and highly visible package that delivers on these expectations.
“We therefore also offer to work with you and your government colleagues to produce a package of economic stimulus based on physical and social infrastructure that can help our cities start delivering for a post-Brexit economy and avoid recession.”
Cllr Clancy has stressed the importance of the Bus Services Bill as a way to promote economic growth and tackle air pollution.
The Bus Services Bill aims to grow bus passenger numbers and improve bus services for passengers. As well as improving partnerships with bus companies, it gives city regions with mayors the option of adopting a bus franchising system similar to that in London – giving more control over fares and routes and making it easier to introduce integrated ticketing such as the Oyster Card.
Cllr Clancy concluded: “Transport links and the Buses Bill are key to making local economies across the UK more economically inclusive and prosperous. High quality public transport is fundamental to ensuring more inclusive growth. Poor air quality is responsible for around the same number of deaths across core cities as it is in London and must be tackled if our cities are to thrive.”
The leader of Birmingham City Council has joined the board of the Colmore Business Improvement District.
Cllr John Clancy took office as leader of the council last December, replacing Sir Albert Bore who also sat on the Colmore Business District board.
A business improvement district (BID) is a defined geographical area within which local businesses pay an extra levy on their rates to invest in projects and services, such as the Colmore Food Festival which is one of Colmore Business District’s flagship projects.
Cllr Clancy, who has been a university lecturer, English teacher and solicitor, said: “Birmingham is definitely open for business and, as a well-established business improvement district, Colmore Business District has a major role to play in our continued growth.
“I’m delighted to be joining the board and look forward to working with business leaders as we continue to develop a hugely important part of the city.”
The board is chaired by Gary Cardin, senior director and head of planning at property consultancy CBRE in Birmingham.
He said: “We’re delighted to welcome the city leader to the Colmore Business District board.
“Colmore Business District works in partnership with the city council on so many economic, infrastructure and public realm projects, we believe having Cllr Clancy involved at such a strategic level will strengthen this relationship for the benefit of businesses in the area.”
My speech from tonight’s Remembering Srebrenica memorial event at the Council House.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen. We’re here this evening to remember one of the darkest chapters in European and indeed world history.
We’re here because just 21 years ago – less than 1,500 miles away – more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were systematically massacred and buried in mass graves, simply because of their faith.
Actually, I think it’s important to state the exact number killed because these were people not numbers. So we’ve gathered here to remember every single one of the 8,372 people killed the Srebrenica massacre.
We’re also here to remember the other innocent victims of this atrocity – those who survived. The thousands of women, children and elderly people who were forcibly deported, the women who were raped and of course the families of those murdered.
But this event shouldn’t simply be about remembrance. This is also an opportunity for people from all communities, of all ages and all faiths to show that we stand united against hatred and discrimination – we choose hope over fear and division.
21 years have passed since the terrible events of July 1995 and this year Remembering Srebrenica is poignantly focusing on the theme ‘Coming of Age’.
This reflects the fact that hundreds of young Bosnian people never had the chance to do just that. They never had the chance to come of age, to fulfil their dreams and live their lives
The 8,372 victims of the Srebrenica genocide – especially the young – represent a lost generation who never had the opportunity to fulfil their potential.
Just think of that for a moment. Here we are in Europe’s youngest city – imagine thousands of our young men being robbed of the chance to grow-up, marry, have children and lead happy successful lives.
That’s a heartbreaking thing to consider and something we must never, never forget.
All that potential, all those hopes and dreams violently destroyed in just 11 days back in 1995.
That’s why we come together every year to pay our respects and to remember. And I hope that is why we will continue to come together.
Gatherings like the one here tonight and many others across Europe and around the world represent a triumph of love over hate. BUT we must not pretend that the terrible events witnessed in Srebrenica could never happen again.
Tragically, history teaches us that, if left unchecked and unchallenged, hatred and prejudice can quickly descend into persecution, violence, murder and eventually genocide.
Sadly we live in troubled times with rising extremism and increasing levels of hate crime. So it has never been more important to stand shoulder to shoulder declaring our rejection of hate and intolerance.
I’m proud of my city. I’m proud of the way our communities live, work and play together. We celebrate our differences; we respect other faiths and cultures.
Just last week, people of all different faiths, backgrounds and cultures came together to honour the victims of hatred through a peace and unity rally in Victoria Square.
Of course there will always be those who point to those differences as a reason for conflict. But anyone seeking to divide us will never succeed here in Birmingham. I say this not as a statement of blind faith but because every day across this great city I see people committed to loving and respecting their neighbours.
We must never be complacent about that. We must never take that cohesion for granted and, as a city council, we will continue to work with all partners, with faith groups, voluntary and community organisations and others to support the needs of ALL citizens in the city. We’ll work together to tackle issues of isolation, exclusion and inequality.
We can never restore those lives so violently destroyed in Bosnia 21 years ago but we can teach our children and their children that hate and division are always wrong. We can lead by example and show them that love and unity must always win.
That would be a fitting and lasting tribute to the victims of the Srebrenica massacre.