February 2012 Archives
The Yes to a Birmingham Mayor campaign has launched a fundraising drive, and hopes to raise up to £45,000 in the run-up to the referendum on May 3 when Birmingham will be asked whether it wants a directly-elected mayor or not.
Julia Higginbottom and colleagues at the campaign have done an excellent job raising awareness of the referendum so far, and it seems to me that their work has could be applauded by "no" campaigners - and anyone else who wants Birmingham residents to make an informed choice on referendum day - almost as much as supporters of a mayor.
The Department for Transport managed to underspend its budget by a whopping one billion pounds in 2010-11, it has emerged.
Aren't there plenty of transport schemes which will benefit local economies - both by providing jobs in the shorter term (eg in construction) and helping employers in the longer term by giving them access to better transport links?
The underspend is revealed in a Commons Transport Committee report published today. Here's an extract:
This blog forms the last piece relating to my recent panel appearance on 26th January 2012 as part of the Great Regional Debate hosted by the Royal Town Planning Institute. This blog responds to two questions.
How do the panel feel the ordinary local voter can better make the connection between what we do as professions and the value we bring to the sub - region so that there is a greater appreciation of local skills and the potential of localism'
I'm trying to find ways to make it easier for people to follow the Birmingham Post's politics news online.
I've had a twitter account for a long time now - my user name is @jonwalker121, so please do follow me! But I've now created a second account which will share links to stories about politics and current affairs in Birmingham and the West Midlands, from the Birmingham Post, Birmingham Mail and other sources too. You can find that at @walkerjonbot.
David Cameron has recognised the work of Birmingham bloggers and other volunteers who run "social media surgeries" to help community groups, by awarding them the Prime Minister's Big Society Award.
Entrepreneur and blogger Nick Booth, owner of Digbeth-based firm Podnosh, received the award on behalf of volunteers who have taken part in the surgeries since they began in 2008.
Greg Clark, the Minister for the Cities, urged Birmingham residents to vote "yes" to an elected mayor, after signing the order telling Birmingham to hold a referendum on May 3.
In an article, originally published in abbreviated form by the Birmingham Mail, he said "the choice is yours" - but argued that a Birmingham Mayor would give the city a strong and accountable leader "who fights their corner - batting for Birmingham on a national and international level."
Mr Clarke is a Minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government. He writes:
Yesterday I was delighted to sign an order which will give residents here in Birmingham the chance to put a directly-elected mayor at the helm.
Putting pen to ballot paper, voters here, and those in the nine other cities, hold the power to bring in a new politics on May 3rd.
Why is this such a great opportunity?
Cannock MP Aidan Burley receives a right telling off from the Speaker in this video, as he heckles Dudley MP Ian Austin. The Black Country MP was demanding to know when an inquiry into Mr Burley's involvement in a Nazi-themed stag do would report its findings.
John Bercow, the Speaker, tells Mr Burley (Con Cannock Chase) to keep quiet after Mr Burley shouts "disgrace". Only Mr Austin had his microphone on, but Mr Burley's words were more audible in the Chamber than they are in this clip from the TV broadcast.
Labour should hold open primaries allowing casual supporters to choose the party's candidate for mayor of Birmingham, according to senior Labour figure David Miliband.
Mr Miliband, the former Foreign Secretary and ex-Labour leadership contender, said the candidate for a Birmingham mayor could be decided in an open primary where anyone can vote if they sign a declaration saying they support Labour and pay a nominal fee of £1.
At the moment, the decision will be made just by party members, who so far have a choice of three candidates - Gisela Stuart, Sion Simon and Sir Albert Bore.
Candidates hoping to stand for mayor of Birmingham will be set a strict spending limit of just over £47,000 each - but it's unclear where they will get the money from.
The parties have given no indication that they will actually be willing to fund mayoral campaigns. And with elections for police commissioners also taking place at the same time as the mayoral vote in November, they may simply not have the cash to splash out for leaflets and traditional mailshots.
The funding cap was revealed by Local Government Minister Andrew Stunell, who said candidates would be allowed to spend £2,362 plus 5.9p for every voter.
This blog is the second of four which relate to my recent panel appearance on 26th January in the Great Regional Debate sponsored by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). This brought together experts from RTPI, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Royal Institute of British Architects, Institution of Civil Engineers and the Landscape Institute. This blog focuses on a question put by Dan Roberts of Lichfield District Council
Do panel members feel that HS2 will contribute to or counteract a West Midlands 'brain drain'? And why?