Birmingham City Council leader, Sir Albert Bore, has today (28/10/2015) committed the council to work with the parish councils’ movement to develop local devolution deals within the city. The move follows the decision to create a Parish Council for Sutton Coldfield, with the potential to localise delivery of many local services.
Speaking at the annual conference of the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) in Birmingham, Sir Albert Bore said: “We want to work with the government and with organisations such as NALC to take forward this agenda, as we develop our Future Council vision for 2020. One approach might be to develop devolution deals within the city, unleashing the creativity and ideas in our communities.
“In 2018 we will reach a watershed in Birmingham’s local government when we move to smaller one or two member wards and a four year election cycle. By then we will have a fully established combined authority and we may also have an elected mayor for the West Midlands.
“But it’s essential that we also develop a new approach to local democracy and local services at the most local level. That will enable us to put in place a bottom up neighbourhood democracy, unique in urban Britain.
“So, there are exciting times ahead in Birmingham. We have a vision for a new approach to local government and parish councils can be at the heart of that vision. We are ready to make radical changes and to challenge the old way of doing things. I want Birmingham to remain at the forefront of innovation in local democracy and to regain its global reputation for good local government.”
Chairman of NALC, Cllr Ken Browse, welcomed Sir Albert’s move, saying: “NALC warmly welcomes the support of Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council and this local authority for parish and town councils both nationally and locally. We, like Sir Albert, want all principal authorities to work closely with parishes to develop very local devolution deals. In Birmingham and other major cities, there are really positive and exciting opportunities for communities to become part of bottom up activism through local democracy.”
The City Council has already called for local people and communities to come forward with their ideas about how local services and local democracy should work in the future and for proposals for further parish, neighbourhood or community councils.
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Improving transport links to speed up journey times across the Midlands could boost the regional economy by more than £1 billion a year, create 300,000 additional jobs and save businesses nearly £500 million.
The figures were revealed today (Thursday October 22) at the launch of the newly strengthened Midlands Connect Partnership.
The Partnership has been charged with developing a Midlands-wide transport strategy to drive the regional economy and power the Government’s ambition to build a Midlands Engine for Growth.
The strategy, to be developed jointly by the Midlands Connect Partnership and the Department for Transport, will set out credible long-term transport investment priorities to help unlock growth and jobs.
Today’s launch at The Roundhouse in Derby follows the Government’s decision to work with the Partnership and put £5 million towards the research and development of the strategy – Midlands Connect: Delivering a Transport Strategy for the Midlands.
It also follows the announcement last week of proposed legislation that would open the door to the Midlands Connect Partnership to seek formal powers over strategic transport schemes and investment.
The Partnership, which includes more than 40 public and private organisations, has been pressing for better road, rail and freight links.
It believes better connectivity is vital for the Midlands to fulfil its growth potential and maximise the significant economic benefits offered by the forthcoming HS2 high speed rail line.
Signatories to the strategy include Transport Under-Secretary of State Robert Goodwill MP, HS2 Ltd chairman Sir David Higgins, Midlands Connect co-chairs Cllr Jon Collins, leader of Nottingham City Council and Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, Peter Richardson, chairman of the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership (representing Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire), David Frost, chair of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP, Cllr Philip Atkins, leader of Staffordshire County Council, Cllr Anne Western, leader of Derbyshire County Council and Cllr Martin Hill, leader of Lincolnshire County Council.
Mr Goodwill said: “In addition to the massive investment the Government is making in our transport infrastructure, we want to help regions across the country to make their voices heard on how their transport networks are run.
“We know that good transport doesn’t just help people get around, it helps them get on and these are key components of our long term economic plan to boost jobs and growth.
“I congratulate the Midlands Connect Partnership on getting the Midlands Engine for Growth in motion and starting work on this vital strategy.
“This is a fantastic opportunity and I look forward to us working together on it.”
Today’s event heard how the Midlands, with 10 million people, 14 cities, 20 universities and an annual contribution to the British economy of more than £178 billion a year, offered unparalleled economic opportunities.
But the region also suffers significant transport challenges which impact on its competitiveness and that of the wider UK economy.
The strategic plan being developed will aim to tackle those transport constraints in order to unlock growth opportunities and capitalise on HS2.
Sir David said: “HS2 has the potential to be more than a new railway. It’s an unprecedented opportunity to create jobs, boost skills and employment and improve transport connectivity across the country.
“Through Midlands Connect local, civic and business leaders are working strategically to get the whole region HS2 ready.
“The programme has received additional support today from Government investment to develop a vision and strategy for transforming transport connectivity across the region, in order to drive economic growth.”
Sir Albert added: “The Midlands has real economic strengths in engineering, manufacturing, construction and research all of which are crucial to the success of UK plc.
“But the evidence demonstrates that our economy is also constrained by poor transport links, particularly for east-west movements.
“That’s why today marks the start of an intensive 18 month process to develop a robust transport strategy identifying the big investments needed to unlock the region’s full potential.”
Research already carried out by Midlands Connect has shown that cutting journey times on key Midland routes by 20 per cent over the next 20 years could yield local business savings of £460 million a year, increase annual economic activity in the region by £1.1 billion, create 306,000 additional jobs and benefit the labour market by £33 million a year.
Research has also shown that the Midlands:
Is worth £178 billion a year to UK plc
Has a third of all UK manufacturing jobs
Exports 16% of all UK exports worth £50 billion
Has 20 universities with links to emerging sectors
Will see its population grow by 10% over the next 20 years
Is within four hours travel time of 90 per cent of UK businesses
Has the UK’s biggest ‘pure’ freight airport at East Midlands
Has Birmingham Airport one of just seven in the UK to serve more than 10 million passengers a year
Cllr Collins added: “The launch of the Midlands Connect partnership representing 40 local transport authorities and local enterprise partnerships will allow us to speak with one loud and clear regional voice to Government – the Midlands is and will be a key driver in helping to rebalance the national economy.
“We can deliver key regional wide transport infrastructure priorities to unlock the potential success of the Midlands economy, and contribute significantly to the national economy.”
Mr Frost said: “As a businessman I’m delighted to see the launch of the major development phase of Midlands Connect. The work that we are starting today will form a cornerstone in ensuring that businesses across the Midlands can improve their productivity and continue to contribute to the success of UK Plc.”
Mr Richardson added: “The development of Midlands Connect is crucially important in driving forward our economic growth.
“The Midlands must be supported in creating the infrastructure to create good north-south and east-west links, and the further transport routes to enable it to trade internationally.
“We’re determined to use private and public sector and central and local government support to create those links to benefit all Midlands’ communities.
“It’s only by developing this kind of framework that the Midlands Engine will be able to drive forward its own and the UK’s economy in the future.”
Philip Atkins, leader of Staffordshire County Council, said: “Staffordshire has a proven track record of working with partners delivering key infrastructure projects to support economic growth, deliver new jobs and improve connectivity between the north and south and particularly between the west to east right here in the Midlands.
“Better road and rail journeys are at the heart of supporting a thriving local, regional and national economy and the investment in Midlands Connect demonstrates further Government’s confidence in all partners to prioritise and deliver what is best for our businesses, best for our residents and best for our local economies”
Cllr Martin Hill OBE, leader of Lincolnshire County Council said:”There is a compelling case for investing in the transport infrastructure in the Midlands and I am pleased that the Government sees the potential for delivering significant job creation and economic growth, backed by the announcement of £5m of support for the further development of Midlands Connect proposals.”
The grand opening of Birmingham’s redesigned central station is the latest symbol of a city that has bounced back from recession stronger than most of its rivals, with higher levels of inward investment, faster export growth and better job creation.
1,000 new homes
Our ambitious ten-year Birmingham Smithfield plan to regenerate a 14 hectare site at the heart of the city centre will create job, build homes and continue Birmingham’s transformation.
Now of course success or failure can never truly be measured or illustrated by statistics alone but I’m sure you’ll agree that the figures I’ve listed paint a picture of a city that’s on the up.
And if you take a look behind the statistics you’ll find the stories that really matter. You’ll find the stories of Brummies doing what they’ve always done in challenging times – bouncing back.
There are many reasons for the successes listed above. If you like, it’s a team effort from enterprising individuals through to big multinational organisations. And I’m proud of the fact that the city council continues to play its part in the latest renaissance of a city that makes a habit of bouncing back from hard times stronger than ever before.
Take our efforts to attract entrepreneurs for example. With almost 20,000 new businesses created in the past year, Birmingham has become the leading start-up hub outside of London. That’s another statistic for you.
Businesses are attracted by a range of factors, including affordable rents, the close proximity of several universities and of course council incentives to invest in the city.
In listing big money schemes and developments, it’s most definitely not my intention to downplay the twin challenges of poverty and deprivation in this city. I entered politics to fight for the most vulnerable across our city and I will continue to do so.
That’s why job creation and economic regeneration matter so much. The jobs created by the initiatives listed above benefit people across the city and attract more people to make our city their home.
Investment in this city must benefit the many not the few and that’s the challenge that continues to motivate me.
Grand Central has taken Birmingham by storm in its first two weeks of trading, drawing in over one million people in just a matter of days.
After a highly anticipated five-year wait, Grand Central is surpassing all predictions and expectations in terms of consumer visits, sales numbers, dwell time and average spend. With 66 new retailers and restaurants being brought to the city, the crowds of excited and expectant shoppers and diners certainly have something to celebrate, and are demonstrating this through their spending power.
In its opening weekend alone, Grand Central welcomed over 300,000 people through their doors. The million milestone had been passed on Wednesday evening and with Halloween just around the corner, marking the start of the festive party season, the numbers are set to increase steadily towards Christmas.
The success is being felt across the full roster of retail and dining brands. Some retailers have reported a 95% increase on their initial expected sales targets. Similarly, the demand for the dining offering has been so high that one outlet has hired an additional 20 staff members, growing its team from 12 to 32 in just two weeks in order to ensure it meets the demands placed on it by the buoyant Birmingham public.
Jonathan Cheetham, general manager for Grand Central, said; “The million customers is just one aspect of Grand Central’s success. More importantly, our retailers’ tills are ringing and the restaurants are full. Furthermore there are even more jobs being created and the feedback from our visitors is that they love the centre, are proud of it to be in the City, and will be returning.”
Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, added; “The early visitor numbers and reports from traders at Grand Central are staggering and confirm it is a transformational regeneration project for the city – solidifying Birmingham’s position at the top of the retail league table.
“The increased footfall, which we hope will continue into the busy Christmas period and beyond, will benefit not only the retailers within the new complex, but those based in the wider city centre too.
“Creating in the region of 1,000 jobs and a positive buzz about Birmingham, it is already very clear the council’s move to purchase the former Pallasades complex to help facilitate the New Street Station redevelopment and the creation of Grand Central was a crucial decision for the city’s economy and transport infrastructure.
“Grand Central has quickly become yet another essential reason to visit Birmingham and I would like to thank everyone involved from the staff at the various outlets to Grand Central management to all of the visitors for this early success.”
For more information or interviews with key personnel, please contact:
Initiative aims to assist 10,000 businesses and create 500 new local jobs
Growth Hub website has already secured over 5,000 unique visitors
Local companies have been urged to take advantage of the Greater Birmingham Growth Hub, which launched today at an event attended by over 300 entrepreneurs, business leaders and stakeholders.
Run by the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), the Growth Hub comprises a web portal, phoneline and one-to-one specialist advice. It is the new home for all business advice, funding and support in the area – providing a route for businesses to local organisations offering business support or funding.
Though particularly focused on small and medium sized businesses within the GBSLEP area, the Growth Hub is designed to assist companies along the region’s supply chains and across all sectors.
Mark Sayers, Deputy Director of Business Productivity and Growth Programmes at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, and Saqib Bhatti, GBSLEP Director and President of the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce, both spoke at the launch event, which was held at Birmingham Hippodrome.
Mark Sayers outlined the importance of the Growth Hub during his speech, stating:
“SMEs are pumping £1.3 trillion into the economy and are responsible for 50% of private sector employment. Encouraging these businesses to scale up, innovate, secure funding, export and access new markets is key to unlocking growth.
“Combining all the local and national services available in Greater Birmingham will provide the greatest benefits to businesses. The Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP and its Growth Hub will have a strong role to play in this.”
A further 18 companies and organisations exhibiting at the event – including national bodies UK Trade & Investment and the Manufacturing Advisory Service – provided free advice to delegates.
During the next 12 months, the Growth Hub will help with 7,200 business enquiries and contribute to creating 500 new jobs. The Hub is progressing strongly already, with its site – www.gbslepgrowthhub.co.uk – receiving over 5,000 unique visitors and handling more than 300 enquiries and requests for support.
The Growth Hub’s webs portal enables business owners to access information and advice about how to start, grow, run and finance their company effectively. Its tailored information directs users to the most appropriate information and support for them. Downloadable step by step guides, films and free event listings are also available online.
To date, the website’s sections about starting a business have become the most popular; reflecting Greater Birmingham’s strength as a start-up hotspot. In Birmingham alone, more than 18,000 firms were set up in 2014, more than any other UK city outside London, according to StartUp Britain.
Local businesses are also continuing to boost employment across the region. The GBSLEP area created 40,800 private jobs during 2014, according to the Office of National Statistics – growing at 6%, well above the national growth rate of 4.3%.
Growth Hub Manager Ian Mclaughlan said:
“Greater Birmingham’s economy is going from strength to strength – and our local companies deserve first class advice and support so they can grow, and recruit, even further. The growth of Greater Birmingham’s businesses, large and small, is crucial to its economic success, which is why the Growth Hub is such an important initiative for the GBSLEP.
“The Growth Hub is designed to make it much easier for firms to find the right support for them. From setting up a company to exporting, recruiting, securing funding or developing new products – there is information and guidance available for business owners based right across Greater Birmingham. Any business that wants to grow, or needs any kind of help, should contact the Growth Hub team as a one-stop-shop for advice.”
The initiative is part of the Government’s Small Business Strategy, with all 39 LEPs in the UK setting up a Growth Hub for local business advice. The Greater Birmingham Growth Hub will be serving one of the largest business communities in the country.
Birmingham-based manufacturer Radshape Sheet Metal has already used the services of a key Growth Hub partner, Finance Birmingham. It secured £1 million funding to invest in essential tools for the production of parts for a future Bentley vehicle. Finance Birmingham provided the funding as part of its £24m Tooling Funding Programme, which has been supported by the Regional Growth Fund.
Keith Chadwick, Managing Director, Radshape Sheet Metal, said:
“The support we received from Finance Birmingham has played a pivotal role in securing this new contract from Bentley and our future as a business. The funding we have received for tooling is simply unavailable from more traditional sources of finance.”
Picture caption: (left-right) Growth Hub manager Ian Mclaughlan, GBSLEP director Saqib Bhatti, deputy director of Business Productivity and Growth Programmes at BIS Mark Sayers, and GBSLEP programme delivery director Mike Carr.
Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, reflects on the renaissance of Birmingham and what it means for the future of the city.
Birmingham has just seen two major milestones in the ongoing transformation of the city, with the opening of New Street station and Grand Central. But when talking about transformation, ‘ongoing’ is the key word. Now that we’ve reached these milestones we aren’t stopping. There is so much more going on in Birmingham.
This weekend has shown again how brilliantly the city can stage major events and play host to people from around the world. We’ve done it before – Euro ‘96, Eurovision and G8 Summit (1998), Papal Visit (2010), hosting the Jamaica and US track and field Olympic teams (2012), to name but a few.
And how wonderful this weekend to see the streets around Villa Park – and throughout the city – thronged with rugby fans from all corners of the globe, joining in with locals and visitors from around the country.
Many of them will have seen the regeneration work going on around the city, including the transformation of the Paradise area which will open up the city centre, particularly between Victoria Square and Centenary Square.
Next month will also see the adoption of the Snow Hill master plan and the contract signed that will see the wholesale markets move to a specially designed site in Witton. The £600m master plan will see the business district, around Colmore Row, transformed and win further investment from global business, particularly from the professional and financial services sectors, in an effort to emulate the success of London’s Canary Wharf and create thousands of jobs. We have already seen HSBC commit to move its HQ to Birmingham and I expect many more firms to follow, along with the young families already leaving London for a better quality of life.
They are finding it here in Birmingham.
Twenty-odd years ago, Birmingham was a very different place to the city it is today, there just wasn’t that much going on in the city centre and you would struggle to know where to take visitors, whether that be in terms of restaurants – now we have five with Michelin stars (congratulations Carters of Moseley!) – or attractions.
So, back then, we needed to look at just what Birmingham could offer and to bring in investment. It was about re-balancing the economy and not being dependent on one sector i.e. manufacturing. We started with the city centre because it is generally the first experience people have, and set about making it an attractive place to work, visit and live, which in turn brought in further investment.
In what is a relatively short period of time, since the mid 1990s, we have seen the ICC, Symphony Hall, Mailbox, Brindley Place and the Library of Birmingham all regenerate and rejuvenate the city.
And don’t forget, HS2 is coming down the track, with all the development, investment, skills and jobs that will attract around Eastside/Curzon Street and across Birmingham as a whole.
Birmingham folk are rightly very proud of their city, and should be, particularly after the week we have just had and we must all hold on tight to that pride. But we can’t just be inwardly proud, we have to all talk our city up and sell the place on a much bigger scale.
The transformation of New Street station and opening of Grand Central, plus the amazing arts and sports events of this weekend, has really showcased just what we have to offer. We now have a retail offer that most cities simply can’t provide and a railway station that people will want to come to and through, that will let them know they have arrived at a vibrant city.
There is still some way to go but the events of the last week or so give us added momentum and all these things we have achieved not only in the last few days and months but also in previous years, reaching this point, are all components in the ongoing renaissance and story of our great city.
We can all hold our heads up high and be proud of what we have become, and continue to move ‘Forward’ – fulfilling the motto of Birmingham.
Grand Central Birmingham opened its doors to the public for the first time today, welcoming thousands of customers and diners into the UK’s newest premium shopping and dining destination.
Following a five-year, £150m transformation, Grand Central now sits proudly above the magnificent £600m New Street station and is very much open for business. Boasting 66 new shops and restaurants with well over half of them never before seen in the city, Grand Central’s opening hits the city during a month that is so packed full of activity is has earned the moniker of ‘Super September.’
Some of the biggest and best names in shopping have opened at Grand Central, with The White Company, Hobbs, Joules, Foyles, Cath Kidston, Neal’s Yard, and Tiger all coming to the city for the first time. Add to that a new swathe of upmarket dining outlets. Diners can sample the delights of Tapas Revolution, Pho, Crepe Affaire, Frizzenti and Square Pie, for the first time in Birmingham thanks to Grand Central managing to combine a great mix of retail and dining options offering a wide ranging choice for all tastes and budgets.
The anticipation around Grand Central has been growing with rapid speed over the last 12 months as the centre has taken shape. Not only has its development changed the architectural horizon of Birmingham due to its high-gloss mirrored exterior snaking its way from Southside to Stephenson Street, but also its sheer impressive size has dominated the cityscape. At 500,000 square foot, it can comfortably house the 66 retailers and restaurants, as well as one of the biggest John Lewis stores in the UK – a 250,000 sq. ft., four-floored space that comes complete with a spa, its own restaurant, and enough stock to fill the Genting Arena twice over.
The development of Grand Central has created more than 1,000 permanent retail, hospitality, catering and customer service jobs, and is expecting to attract more than 50 million visitors a year. The centre has been brought to life by more than 3,500 construction workers that include builders, electricians, plumbers, shop-fitters, plasterers, as well as everything in between. The build began in 2011 with an initial demolition phase – over 6,000 tonnes of concrete were removed from the Pallasades Shopping Centre to allow the remodelling of what would become Grand Central as well as opening it up to allow the natural light to filter though. The entire process was an environmentally considerate project, with 98% of the material from the demolished Stephenson Street Tower being recycled for use on other building projects.
A stand out piece of the development is the newly unveiled atrium that overlooks the vibrant bustle of the New Street passenger concourse. The new concourse is five times the size of London Euston’s and was rebuilt without any interruption to rail services for the 170,000 passengers who use it every day.
Grand Central is a project that combined some major stakeholder partners from across the city, including Birmingham City Council Network Rail, Mace, DTZ, and John Lewis Partnership.
Jonathan Cheetham, centre manager for Grand Central, said: “This has been brought to life through a culmination of a dedicated, committed group from across the city. It’s a proud day for Birmingham and demonstrates our continued retail power to bring these high quality shops and restaurants to the Birmingham consumer, marking another chapter in the on-going renaissance of our great city.”
Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The arrival of Grand Central provides even more shopping and dining choice for people in the city centre. With its stainless steel facade wrapping around the entire building, Grand Central makes an impressive impact on Birmingham’s ever improving architectural landscape. The creation of over 1000 jobs in retail, hospitality, catering and customer service also provides a significant number of opportunities for local people.
Richard Brown, Grand Central development director, said: “The years of wait have been well worth it. Not only is New Street Station a magnificent new development for passengers and commuters, but Grand Central also offers a unique and unforgettable shopping experience for all. We are proud that Birmingham is at forefront of such an impressive aesthetic design which will be enjoyed and admired by people across the UK and worldwide.”
The first-ever exhibition of local design, manufacturing and innovation has taken flight to the European Parliament in Brussels this week (September 22-24) to showcase the West Midlands’ achievements to European stakeholders.
Hosted by Neena Gill MEP with the support of Birmingham City Council, the Greater Birmingham and West Midlands Brussels office partnership, and key figures such as Commissioner Lord Hill and Chairman Jerzy Buzek, the exhibition demonstrates how organisations from Birmingham and the West Midlands are working with businesses to drive innovation in the manufacturing industry.
Speaking of the exhibition titled Greater Birmingham and the West Midlands: A European home of advanced manufacturing and innovation, Neena Gill MEP said: “I’m proud to be hosting this event to show a European audience what we in the West Midlands produce locally, in order to drive jobs, investment, and growth. We’re building on our well-known industrial strengths, but also presenting a fresh perspective of what innovation and manufacturing means for us in 2015 and beyond through these high tech, innovative displays.
“I’m so pleased to have planned this event alongside friends and colleagues in these important regional institutions, and to be welcoming such high level speakers, as it’s important that other countries recognise our region’s achievements.”
Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council commented: “I am delighted that the Greater Birmingham and West Midlands Brussels office partnership is able to profile some of the expertise we have in the fields of product design, advanced manufacturing, and innovation to the European Parliament. The Midlands is a true engine for growth at the heart of the UK and Europe with manufacturing accounting for 13.9 per cent of the region’s output, well above the UK average.”
Keynote speaker, Chairman Jerzy Buzek, commented: “From biotechnology to photonics, and 3D printing, exhibitions like this are important to show how local organisations are contributing to the EU’s 2020 smart and sustainable growth goals.”
Keynote speaker Commissioner Lord Hill said: “The exhibition is not only about celebrating manufacturing and innovation, but looking at how these talents are a bedrock for the region’s economy, growing alongside the region’s swiftly developing financial services sector.”
Exhibitors include; the University of Birmingham, the University of Warwick, Aston University, Birmingham City University (BCU), the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, Birmingham City Council and Climate KIC (Knowledge and Innovation Community) who are all partners of the Greater Birmingham and West Midlands Brussels office.
The visual centrepiece of the event is BCU’s Birmingham Made Me initiative, showcasing iconic products originating from Birmingham and the West Midlands including Pashley cycles, an AGA Rangemaster door, 3D printed jewellery prototypes from Weston Beamor, ACME whistles, Brooks saddles and a Westfield sports car nose cone.
Get involved with the event on Twitter and see photos via the hashtag #westMIDexpo
For further information please contact:
0121 622 2165
Notes to editors:
• Between 2003 and 2013, nearly half of all West Midlands exports by value went to EU countries.
• Almost £400 million of European funding aimed at boosting local businesses is available for the West Midlands – the latest round of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) enables LEPs in the region to distribute the capital to companies on their patches in need of a financial boost to support their growth plans.
• The 2007-2013 round of ERDF created 14,345 jobs across the West Midlands from £324 million of funding.
• Ms Neena Gill is current Labour Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands, UK. She is full member of the Committee for Economic and Monetary Affairs, and substitute for the Committee of Foreign Affairs. Ms Gill is also First Vice-President to the Delegation for Relations with India, and a member of the Delegation to the US.
• This is Neena’s third term as MEP for the area, having previously served from 1999-2009.
• Prior to becoming an MEP, she was a CEO of two housing organisations. She also graduated in Social Sciences, has a post-graduate professional qualification from the Chartered Institute of Housing, and is an alumnus of the London Business School.
Sir Albert Bore
• Sir Albert Bore is leader of Birmingham City Council
• Committee Membership 2015-2016: Council Business Management Committee, General Assembly of the Local Government Association, West Midlands Joint Committee.
• Prime Minister of Poland from 1997 – 2001, and has been a Member of the European Parliament since June 2004.
• Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE)
• President of the European Parliament between 2009 – 2012.
Commissioner Lord Jonathan Hill
• A British Conservative politician who since 1 November 2014 serves as a European Commissioner.
• European Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and the Capital Markets Union
The Independent Improvement Panel will hold its next public meeting on 11 September. Council leader Sir Albert Bore, deputy leader Ian Ward and chief executive Mark Rogers will respond to questions from the panel and public, along with opposition leaders Cllrs Robert Alden and Paul Tilsley.
Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “We have been working hard to make significant and sustainable progress at speed over the summer. Although it has been necessary to focus on change within the organisation, residents and our partners will also start to see improvements in the way we communicate and engage with them.
“One of the key challenges mentioned by Lord Kerslake’s report is the way we work with others and we are absolutely committed to working constructively with partners in setting up the combined authority and ‘Birmingham Partners’; we have not sought to take control but have worked collaboratively and supportively. Where we have taken the lead this has been at the behest of others.
“The political will to change remains strong and we are working harder and smarter to deliver the new type of local government the city needs and deserves. We will continue to work together to ensure we provide the best possible services for all our citizens, secure increased powers and funding for the region and improved community governance.”
Chief Executive Mark Rogers said: “I am pleased the panel has recognised the progress we have made in the last couple of months in terms of delivering the first stages of the Future Council programme. Both Lord Kerslake’s report and communications from the panel have been clear on the need for the council to change its culture, specifically around being more open and outward-facing, and we are seeing progress.
“The council is increasing its strategic capacity; additional funding from central government has made it possible to recruit at a faster pace and move the programme forward significantly.
“It is also vital that we communicate what we are doing to residents, partners and stakeholders and we therefore have a clear and targeted strategy for engaging with all these groups. We know our residents and partners are proud of Birmingham and we are determined to give them full confidence and trust in our organisation.”
Birmingham City Council is transforming itself as it addresses the challenges of delivering its programme of safeguarding, education and corporate governance improvements whilst also designing an organisation for the future – which reflects the changing nature of local government and its massively reduced funding.
It is, therefore, most welcome news that the council’s own plans and transformation resources are to be augmented by a grant of £4.37million from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
This money has been provided to support the delivery of the city’s Future Council change programme, enabling even more to now be done, more quickly than originally anticipated.
A bid outlining the need for financial support was submitted to DCLG in June and a grant has been agreed to complement funds already identified by both the council and the Local Government Association to meet recommendations in the council’s improvement plan, the delivery of which is currently being overseen by the Birmingham Independent Improvement Panel.
Specifically, the funding will help the council deliver on its medium-term Future Council plan by being used to fund additional staff capacity to ensure regular council business can continue as usual, provide specialist know-how not already within the council so helping to speed up existing improvement projects, and to fund extra improvement activity.
Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “I am committed to delivering the improvements expected of us and I am pleased that the government has agreed to provide funds that will give even more impetus to the achievement of ambitions in our Future Council.
“Whilst we are making progress, these extra funds will undoubtedly help us to accelerate the delivery of the changes in organisational governance and capability that are required.
“It is encouraging that the DCLG has acknowledged this is something we were not able to do wholly within the council’s own limited resources and that it has endorsed our plans to modernise and create a council that is both fit and sustainable for the future.”