July 2010 Archives
No reaction as yet from the city council's Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition to the news that Birmingham is to have a directly elected mayor by May 2012.
This has come as a bit of a blow, I imagine, since both halves of the partnership have fought tooth and nail against the idea.
But what must be really galling is the growing realisation that a mayor could be imposed on Birmingham without asking voters whether they want to get rid of the cabinet-chief executive system and be governed by one powerful individual instead.
Is there anything you'd like to ask David Cameron? Here's your chance.
The Prime Minister is visiting to the West Midlands and plans to hold a public meeting where voters can ask him questions.
It's been organised by Downing Street in partnership with the Birmingham Post and Birmingham Mail, and we're looking for people to take part.
(Strictly speaking the Mail is more involved than the Post, but we're all friends here).
So if you're based in the Birmingham/Solihull/Black Country area and want to speak to Mr Cameron, just get in touch.
For security reasons, you'll need to provide your full address and date of birth as well as your full name and an e-mail address.
If you have a particular reason for wanting to question the Prime Minister, you can let us know if they choose. For example, you might be a teacher or parent with concerns about the education system.
The aim is to ensure a range of different topics are addressed, but there is no need to give details of the question you might ask.
Full details of the venue and date of the meeting will not be announced until nearer the time, again for security reasons.
Anyone who wants to take part can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by post at Jonathan Walker, Room 16, Press Gallery, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.
When I heard Birmingham had been beaten by Londonderry/Derry in its city of culture bid, I hoped we'd wish the winners well and avoid feeling too sorry for ourselves. After a series of failed bids for projects such as the Olympics, national stadium and European Capital of Culture, there can be a tendency to wallow in complaints that "Birmingham never gets anything" which isn't helpful, even if it's understandable.
But reading comments by Phil Redmond, the writer and chairman of the city of culture judges, I couldn't help thinking that we were at a disadvantage from the start. He talks about culture in Derry being used to "promote harmony, tolerance, hope and aspiration" and helping people to understand their past, which I take to be a reference to the Troubles.
He seems to believe that Derry's difficult history is half a reason to name it the winner, which is perhaps fair enough but something he could have told us before we went to the effort of preparing a bid.
MPs have launched an inquiry into Local Enterprise Partnerships, which the Coalition government plans to create to replace Regional Development Agencies. Details of how to take part in the inquiry are below.
Existing agencies, including Advantage West Midlands, are to be abolished. The Government plans instead to create partnerships led by local councils and business representatives.
The policy has been controversial and attracted opposition from both Labour and business organisations in the West Midlands, although business leaders are now concentrating on working with national and local government to ensure local enterprise partnerships are a success (after all, the Government is clearly not going to change its mind about RDAs).
The Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee - also known as the select committee - is launching an inquiry and has invited people to submit evidence.
We've been reporting on the Government's announcement that school building schemes across the West Midlands are being axed, including 12 in Birmingham.
The Department for Education initially announced that Sandwell's schemes would all go ahead - before admitting that nine had actually been stopped and three were "under discussion".
This provoked a furious reaction from Sandwell MP Tom Watson (West Bromwich East) aimed at Education Secretary Michael Gove, as you can see below thanks to theyworkforyou.com:
Edited July 8 - when I first posted this, I used the list provided by the Department for Education which the Department later admitted contained a number of errors.
This post has now been updated with the correct information.
Education Secretary Michael Gove has announced that he is cancelling a number of school building schemes which had been part of the Government's Building Schools for the Future scheme.
The story should be on the news section of the website soonish. Here is a list of all the schools involved. "Unaffected" means they go ahead, "stopped" means they are cancelled and "for discussion" means they are suspended, and the Department for Education will discuss whether to go ahead with them or not with the local council concerned.
News that a referendum on voting reform is to be held on the same day as local elections on May 5 next year is being seen as a victory for the Liberal Democrats.
David Cameron had to give Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg something to placate his troops as compensation for forcing them to back a VAT increase and public spending cuts, so the theory goes.
But it's worth noting that Lib Dems aren't at all enthusiastic about the Alternative Vote (AV) system, which is set to be the subject of next year's poll.
Les Lawrence, the Tory councillor who is Birmingham's cabinet member for schools, was in imperious form at a scrutiny committee meeting called by Labour to oppose planned ÃÂ£13 million cuts in this year's education budget.
Lawrence took on all-comers with ease, batting away suggestions that the "efficiencies" he was proposing would lead to poorer services.
Nothing could be further from the truth, Lawrence insisted, as he outlined a cunning plan to reduce core budgets by making better use of government grants.