Author Archives: Editor

Brummies across all communities will not tolerate extremism of any kind

Birmingham stands with London against terrorism in all its evil guises. This city’s heart goes out to the victims and the injured in the Westminster attack.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of all those caught up in such a dreadful atrocity.

Birmingham is a city built on the spirit and hard work of immigrants and refugees who came here from across the world to seek safety and make a new home.

The sons and daughters and grandchildren of those immigrants are part of the Birmingham family today.

We celebrate basic Birmingham values – everybody is born equal, no discrimination on grounds of sex or religion.

Everyone is welcome in Birmingham….everyone can make it in Birmingham.

When these shared values are challenged this city won’t turn a blind eye. Across our communities the simple message to those who carry out terrorist acts is: Not In Our Name

Give us the powers and we will lead the post-Brexit economy

Localis report

As consultation on the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper draws to a close, I want to underline the importance for Birmingham and the wider West Midlands of a joint approach towards one of the biggest issues facing this country.

I’m determined that we will lead the country in showing how cities can be at the forefront of a new, post-Brexit, industrial strategy.

The countdown to Brexit is about to begin. The Prime Minister has signalled she will trigger Article 50 next week and whether we like it or not, the UK will leave the European Union in two years.

This means the requirement for a sound industrial strategy, with buy-in from both central and local government, has never been greater. Post-Brexit it is vital that investment currently coming from the EU to Britain is maintained, that we address the skills shortages holding back the economy and the prospects of local people, and maintain investment in our transport infrastructure and new homes.

This won’t be easy but the task will be even more difficult, impossible perhaps, unless the Government is prepared to move at pace to allow important strategic decisions to be taken locally, at a level where councils and business leaders know what is best for their local communities and can react swiftly to trading opportunities as they arise.

Devolution of budgets and powers from Whitehall has to be far more than just a sound-bite – the advent of a West Midlands mayor alongside a united Combined Authority with metropolitan and district councils working together as never before presents this region with a unique opportunity, and we must be up for the challenge.

The three-LEP geography of the Combined Authority is the right level at which to deliver a regional industrial strategy. But we are also working closely with the Midlands Engine project on those aspects that require a bigger canvas, such as cross-regional transport investment and selling the Midlands globally.

A new report from the think tank Localis, makes the case for radical devolution which would enable Birmingham and the West Midlands to deliver an industrial strategy to create jobs and inclusive growth for the region post-Brexit.

The report recommends that the West Midlands be given:

  • A new Accelerated Growth Fund, to replace EU funding and pool all existing local funding
  • Powers to more effectively plan for current and future labour market needs, including co-ordinating local skills provision
  • Leadership on local land provision for housing and jobs and on the use of all public land, stronger compulsory purchase powers
  • A duty to develop local transport strategies and control over investment planning
    Control of local bus services
  • Power to control a Community Infrastructure Levy across the area and new Zonal Infrastructure Levies
  • Greater discretion over business rates and pilots of fiscal devolution steps such as a local corporation tax top slice, localised VAT and wider borrowing powers
  • Rights to propose public sector relocations from London, such as government departments or Quangos.

The report is particularly welcome as it is in line with the arguments we have been making to the Government on the need for more devolution so that we can deliver the investment needed to prosper after Brexit.

These changes would go a long way to enable Birmingham and the West Midlands to make a greater contribution to the nation’s prosperity and achieve the full potential we know exists in the region.

When the Industrial Strategy Green Paper was published, the Prime Minister promised the Government would step up to a “new, active role that backs business and ensures more people in all corners of the country share in the benefits of its success”.

The Government said it would look favourably on the type of sectors that will shape the economy of tomorrow, with life sciences, low carbon vehicles, industrial digitalisation and creative industries expected to be at the front of the queue for investment.

This is potentially good news for Birmingham and the West Midlands where our hospitals and universities are already blazing a trail in medical research, and where JLR has expressed a wish to look at building a new battery and assembly plant for electric cars.

But as I’ve already made clear, there’s much more the Government should be doing if it wants to rebalance the economy and promote inclusive economic growth, with well-paid jobs for all citizens. Enhanced capital allowances should be considered to stimulate investment in manufacturing, the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative should be resurrected, and funding gaps for small firms in the supply chain need to be plugged.

I welcome the Green Paper’s recognition of the importance of individual councils and combined authorities as key local institutions but again look for a stronger commitment to devolution to enable us to deliver.

The Government must ensure that governance at a regional level, whether through combined authorities, local enterprise partnerships, or mayors, should be able to work with development bodies that can intervene more widely and strategically at a regional level, and do smart specialisation through regional level industrial policies.

Greater Birmingham welcomes thousands of prospective investors at MIPIM 2017

Midlands UK at MIPIM

  • Nearly 3,000 delegates visit the Midlands UK pavilion
  • Events showcased key projects including Peddimore, The Hub at UK Central and the Wolverhampton Interchange
  • Panel discussions on connectivity and HS2 drew large crowds

Nearly 3,000 international delegates visited the Midlands UK pavilion during global real estate show MIPIM 2017 (Cannes, France, 14-17 March) to learn about opportunities to invest in areas across the region.

The Greater Birmingham delegation, which attended MIPIM as part of Midlands UK, comprises Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country. Representatives from Greater Birmingham took part in more than 20 events within the Midlands programme, including panel debates and showcase presentations featuring approximately 50 speakers.

Based at a pavilion for the first time, the wider Midlands UK delegation featured more than 40 organisations from the private sector, working in collaboration with the public sector to promote the region. The companies ranged from property agents to developers, consultancies and architects.

Investment opportunities around Greater Birmingham’s growing transport infrastructure were a draw for MIPIM delegates. An event looking at the potential of Birmingham Curzon’s HS2 station on Wednesday afternoon was full, along with a panel discussion focused on how HS2 will impact the economic performance of the area.

Other popular events for Greater Birmingham included presentations about major schemes that are expected to make a huge economic impact on the local economy.

Two major developments in Birmingham have taken a step forward after being showcased at MIPIM.  A Visioning Document for the £350 million Peddimore industrial site launched at the show, while it was also announced that Stoford Developments has been appointed to deliver the £200 million redevelopment of a key property portfolio around Typhoo Wharf in Birmingham city centre.

Cllr John Clancy, Leader, Birmingham City Council, commented: “The Midlands Engine’s presence at MIPIM sends a powerful message to global investors that the region is a strong, cohesive area, which is committed to becoming more connected, productive and innovative. By joining together with other destinations to promote Birmingham, Greater Birmingham and the Midlands Engine, we are competing even more strongly than ever before to secure investment that will help to create new jobs, homes and economic wealth for local people.”

A Growth and Infrastructure Plan for the UK Central Hub at Solihull also launched at MIPIM, which presented 775,000 sqm of development land and space for up to 4,000 homes to potential investors. The Solihull Town Centre Masterplan outlines the potential for up to 1,400 new homes, over 70,000 sqm of new office space and 11,000 sqm of commercial and leisure space.

Cllr Ian Courts, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Managed Growth at Solihull Council, said: “We have enjoyed taking part in a number of very busy events at MIPIM this year, with attendance boosted by Solihull and Greater Birmingham’s presence at the Midlands Engine Pavilion. Now that Royal Assent has been granted to HS2, investors can see that our plans for major schemes like The Hub will soon become a reality – and their interest in UK Central and Solihull is growing as a result.”

A range of City of Wolverhampton opportunities were also on show at MIPIM. Its ambitious £132 million Interchange scheme will introduce a new railway station to support its modern bus station, while the i9 site was showcased as a potential regional headquarters for a global company.  Further progress on the Black Country Garden City project was outlined, which will be one of the UK’s largest ever brownfield site regeneration programmes and aims to lever £6 billion of investment.

Tom Westley, Black Country LEP lead for the Enterprise Zone, added: “Major developments such as i9 and the Wolverhampton Interchange were extremely well received at MIPIM this year, having certainly caught the attention of delegates. This year has again been highly successful for Greater Birmingham, particularly as we are able to capitalise on the growing strength and profile of the Midlands Engine to attract investment into the Black Country.”

Other well-attended events included an evening reception featuring British screenwriter Steven Knight, filled with delegates wearing caps from the TV show Peaky Blinders, which is set in Birmingham.

Midlands UK has also made a significant impact beyond Cannes. The @UKMidlands Twitter account doubled its followers during MIPIM, and reached more than 120,000 users throughout the event, while the #MidlandsUK hashtag has been used over 100,000 times. Nearly 150 regional, national and international media articles about the Midlands UK delegation have been published to date. To view a brief film of Midlands UK at MIPIM, please visit http://midlandsukmipim.com/video-mipim-minute/ .