June 2010 Archives
Business Secretary Vince Cable and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles have today written to local council leaders formally inviting them to create Local Enterprise Partnerships - the bodies that will replace Regional Development Agencies such as our own Advantage West Midlands.
Perhaps the only surprise is that the partnerships, originally designed to be local government-led, will now be chaired by a business leader - perhaps a sign that the government wants to placate organisations like Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, which has expressed strong doubts about letting councillors take responsibility for economic development.
Here is the letter in full:
With any luck, there'll be no more talk about "doubts" over the future of Advantage West Midlands (AWM).
For better or worse, the Government has finally issued a firm statement confirming that regional development agencies such as AWM, those government agencies which spend around ÃÂ£200 million each every year, are to be scrapped.
Two events this week marked Birmingham as a significant science centre.
The first was at two in the morning on 16 June when the spanking new Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham opened its doors for its first A&E patients. Much has been made of the facilities in the handsome building which dominates the Edgbaston-Selly Oak skyline, and rightly so. There's nothing new, however, in the world-class quality of the staff, both the clinicians and the researchers behind the scenes blazing their trail in the regional universities.
The second event was less dramatic, but significant nonetheless. It was the inaugural meeting of Science Capital, a not-for-profit organisation bringing scientists, business experts, policy makers and financial advisors together.
Grass roots issues are important in politics, but the obsession that Conservative politicians have with dustbins is verging on the ridiculous.
Tory councillors across the country have convinced themselves that retaining weekly bin collections is one of the great issues of our time.
So much so that Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has written in forthright terms to the Audit Commission instructing it to withdraw guidelines to local authorities encouraging them to move to fortnightly collections.
Another honours list has come and gone, and still no sign of a gong for Birmingham City Council leader Mike Whitby.
It is more than a little odd, after six years in charge of Europe's largest local authority, that official recognition has not come his way.
Former Coventry Council leader Ken Taylor was appointed OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours, while Dudley Council leader David Caunt picked up a CBE. There were numerous examples of district council leaders across the country being honoured.
Nominations for the Labour leadership contest have closed, and Andy Burnham, Ed Balls, David Miliband and Ed Miliband and Diane Abbott have all made it onto the ballot paper with the required 33 nominations from Labour MPs.
Ms Abbott's names include a few who are very unlikely actually to vote for her, including Jack Straw and, uh, David Miliband.
In fact, D Miliband apparently got his friends to nominate her too, stating proudly on Twitter "Good news re Dianne. Thanks to my supporters who helped put her on ballot. Important day for debate and diversity in party."
It's become clear why Philip Parkin was the surprise victor in the race to be deputy leader of Birmingham City Council's Conservative group.
He must have run on a 'champion of the backbenchers' ticket to beat the leadership's favoured candidate, Keith Barton.
Attending a meeting of the leisure scrutiny committee, Parkin lost no time in tearing into time-serving colleagues.
The scrutiny process, he declared, was just all too "cosy" with committees rarely challenging cabinet decisions in the way they should.
He asked: "How many occasions have there been when scrutiny has come up with suggestions that the executive has taken on board?"
A long silence ensued.