Archives for posts with tag: West Midlands Combined Authority

Thursday 27th October. 5-7 pm

Open meeting: FOE Warehouse, 54 Allison St, B5 5TH


Richard Hatcher will be talking about the relationship between productivity, skills and education, specifically in the context of the policies of the West Midlands Combined Authority. He will critically examine the claim that low productivity is largely caused by a ‘skills deficit’ and the resulting strategies that are being advocated to address it, with particular reference to the school system and apprenticeships. He will also say something about how the new policy on grammar schools relates to this, predicting that “as Combined Authorities spread and develop they will add fuel to the debate about the relationship between schools and the labour market, resulting in more questioning of the E-Bacc curriculum and more pressure to validate a pre-vocational and vocational pathway. But it also opens up the opportunity to argue the case for a unified and critical common core secondary curriculum for all”.

Richard is professor of education at Birmingham City University and a campaigner on education issues.

Questions and discussion will follow 

An Attwood award will then be given to Ridhi Kalaria who has worked hard to further the  Birmingham Pound project.









Though the rational, utilitarian, economical decision would have been to opt for an improvement to existing bus services, the writer admits to luxuriating in the mini journey from Bull Street to New Street – as it glides smoothly through peaceful traffic-emptied streets.

Work is underway extending the route from New Street Station to Centenary Square, with services expected to start running in 2019. Funding has also been earmarked for the line to go further along Broad Street, past Five Ways and on to Edgbaston by 2021.

Duncan Tift (Business Desk) informs us that the Midland Metro Alliance has applied for permission to extend the tram service to Birmingham Eastside’s proposed HS2 station at Curzon Street, as well as offering connections to New Street, Moor Street and Snow Hill, with easy access to Birmingham Coach Station and to bus routes to the south east of the city centre. It will also link  significant areas of commercial and leisure activity to the east of the city centre, the Jewellery Quarter and the Black Country.


The Midland Metro Alliance, acting on behalf of the West Midlands Combined Authority, will have to implement a Transport and Works Act Order. MMA consists of rail construction specialists Colas Rail, Colas Ltd, Barhale, Thomas Vale and Auctus Management Group, a consortium of design experts from Egis, Tony Gee and Pell Frischmann and WMCA specialists.

Details of the route, cost and schedule may be seen here (registration necessary):




“Last week’s announcement by Birmingham City Council that it was commissioning a feasibility study into whether to bid to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games was as surprising as it was welcome”.


So writes Steve Beauchampé, co-author of ‘Played in Birmingham’, Former International Officer of the FSA and member of Birmingham’s Euro ’96 Organising Committee.

Beauchampé notes that in general there had been little expectation of any alteration to the local authority’s previously stated position that a bid was not viable, in a period of unprecedented cuts to council services and substantially diminished central government grants. He continued:

“So what has changed?

“Several things perhaps: Chancellor George Osborne’s departure from office, which has seen his Northern Powerhouse project downgraded, or at least reconfigured as a more balanced national approach to devolution; that new Prime Minister Theresa May’s chief advisor Nick Timothy is from Birmingham, which might result in the city receiving a fairer hearing in Whitehall than was previously the case”.

The backing of the recently established West Midlands Combined Authority, as well as that of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership may well have been decisive, according to Beauchampé, who points out that, “both of these organisations are potentially able to access the sizeable funding streams necessary to develop the infrastructure improvements required to put on a high profile global event and deliver substantial economic regeneration as a consequence”. 

To secure the tacit support of central government and then the nomination of Commonwealth Games England, Birmingham must forget the notion of an ‘austerity’ Games:

“The Games, and the physical legacy they leave, must be tangible, its focal point both visible and accessible from the city centre. And whilst most of the facilities required already exist, albeit with some needing to be adapted, expanded or upgraded, several new venues and facilities will both be required and desirable (including a competition standard 50m pool, a velodrome and an athletes’ village)”.

He emphasizes that the region’s history and culture – sporting, artistic, ethnic and otherwise – should be mined and celebrated both in advance of, and during, the ten day spectacular of competition; there needs to be imagination in each aspect of how the event is conceived and delivered, and in how its benefits are to be maximised and secured afterwards. A Greater Birmingham bid needs to show how the region would advance the concept of what the Commonwealth Games can be, as successfully as London 2012 did with the Olympics.

Beauchampé reminds us that Manchester did not see staging the Commonwealth Games as the end of a process, but merely the beginning: “It’s an approach and a mindset that we too should adopt”.

Read the whole article: Bring The Games To Birmingham here:









Observer: “Too late for Solihull residents to have their say as Combined Authority plans race ahead?”

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Press coverage this week records progress made by Solihull in forming a West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA). At their 14th July meeting the council agreed to go forward in principle, subject to consultation with stakeholders.

But though presentations to Parish Councils have taken place, there have been no signs of any effective consultation with the wider non-parish areas covering the majority of the Solihull community, according to the secretary of Solihull Ratepayers’ Association (SRA). He points out:

  • There is no formal process for consultation set out on the Solihull Council website for the benefit of interested parties wishing to make informed enquiries or comments.
  • And the date for closing submissions is today 31st August 2015 (Bank Holiday Monday).


SRA agrees that the projected overall benefits will be significant – if achieved – in terms of growing the regional economy, improving skills and connectivity/public transport links, leading to increased local control and additional funding through retention of business rates to offset reductions in government funding to councils. If implementation went according to plan, Solihull would be well placed to benefit financially.

However, they point out that – given past experiences of reorganisations on anything like this scale – it is important to get it right.


  • SRA is strongly opposed to the appointment of an elected Mayor and favours the alternative proposal of a joint authority/board favoured by Solihull and other districts. It is accepted that this may result in some reduction in devolution powers.
  • The role of the LEPS is supported by SRA, but clarification of their role in the final decision making process is needed. SRA feels decisions should ultimately be taken by the elected board members with political accountability.
  • Previous re-organisations have tended to lead to increased costs and additional tiers of responsibility – mainly staffing costs, higher pay grades leading to a spiralling Council Tax increase.
  • The authority title is important: The West Midlands Combined Authority. Pressure to change that to a Greater Birmingham designation must be resisted.
  • Solihull Ratepayers’ Association also has reservations over the haste in which this change is being implemented; a shadow board has been set up chaired by the leader of Solihull, with Sandwell providing the Vice Chairman.

They sent a copy of their observations to Cllr Bob Sleigh the Shadow Board designated Chairman and to the consultation reference in Solihull:

A final decision is to be confirmed at the next full Council Meeting on 13th October.