Labour leader Ed Miliband recently revealed plans to strip £20bn from Whitehall departments and give the funds to regions to create jobs.
There was one catch: a West Midlands or ‘Greater Birmingham’ combined local authority was a pre-requisite to bid for a share of this bonanza intended to pay for transport improvements, new housing and training schemes.
I could point out that, as with Lord Heseltine’s earlier promises, the chances of stripping that amount of money out of Whitehall’s civil servant and ministerial fiefdoms are not
exactly high. But there’s a deeper argument: call me a cynic, but are we not just re-inventing a form of Advantage West Midlands cum West Midlands County Council?
Who would bet on our weak political leadership agreeing on anything and, if by some miracle they did, working together in a degree of harmony? This may be a blueprint suitable for more geographically and culturally defined parts of the country like Manchester or Newcastle. But this is the West Midlands, which has never really existed as any sort of entity since the Dark Ages.
Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country are said to be more open to putting aside their differences and creating a regional ‘super council’ focused on economic development.
I can’t see it. The Black Country in particular are revelling in the autonomy their LEP has given them. Coventry & Warwickshire too have their own agenda.
The most stupid thing the current Government did was get rid of AWM. The Greater Birmingham LEP is all hot air, with the donkey work done by the city council.
Instead of actions all we get is endless promises on jobs which disappear like dandelion seeds on the wind.
Birmingham should build its own future, succeed or fail on its own merits, instead of constantly pleading for government hand-outs. Sir Albert Bore: take note.
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