May 2012 Archives
It is a truth universally acknowledged that talks of the Queen or Prince William seem to make everyone rather giddy with excitement as if they're in a trance.
In a court of law they'd be guilty.
More developments in the police's controversial business partnership plans. We report in today's Post that the largest security firm, G4S, and outsourcing specialists Capita are among the firms competing to become partners with West Midlands and Surrey Police.
The forces have published the names of six bidders which have been selected to move on to the next stage of the tendering process in the partnership programme, which critics describe as privatisation.
Some of the bids come from individual businesses while others involve a number of firms working together in consortia.
West Midlands Police is arguing that the need to make savings is one of the reasons it is pursuing a "Business Partnership Programme" to bring in private sector partners (see this blog by PC Richard Stanley for another perspective on the debate).
The force states on its website: "The force is facing a funding gap of more than £126m over the current spending review (CSR) period and recognises there will considerable challenges ahead. As a result the force is exploring every possible option in order to deliver the most cost efficient and effective service it can."
The issue also came up in a live chat the force has been holding today to explain the process, described by critics as "privatisation", to the public.
MPs will tomorrow, Tuesday, decide whether to refer News International executives - possibly including Rupert and James Murdoch - to the Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges for "Contempt of Parliament".
The motion has been tabled by John Whittingdale MP, Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, on behalf of the committee.
But Black Country MP Tom Watson, the Committee's most high profile member, may be absent - as he is due to give evidence to Lord Leveson's inquiry into the media tomorrow afternoon.
West Midlands Police may have delayed plans to agree a "business partnership" with the private sector - what critics called privatisation - but it certainly hasn't abandoned them.
Trade Union Unite has issued a statement welcoming the delay, saying: "Police privatisation is on hold but it's absolutely crucial that those who care about public services keep up the pressure to kill off these plans for good."
But Chris Sims, the force's chief constable, has sent a paper to West Midlands Police Authority making it clear that he intends to carry on with the proposals, that the force has already appointed no fewer than three firms as consultants to help it work on the plans, and that it still expects to spend £1.5 million on the procurement process alone - down from the original estimated cost of £2 million.
West Midlands Police has also launched a publicity drive on its website, designed to reassure the public that police forces will not be "privatised" our outsourced.
My students have just completed a critical assessment of Birmingham Big City Plan. This forms part of a module called Policy and Plans and the challenge was to look critically at real live plans and assess whether they were effective or, as Baldrick would say, cunning plans. At the heart of the Big City Plan lies a vision to reposition Birmingham as a global city. This resonates with the current growth agenda pursued by the government and the creation of the Birmingham and Greater Solihull and Black Country Local Enterprise partnerships provide delivery vehicles to help achieve this. However, in all this talking and planning for economic growth, investment and regeneration one word is conspicuous by its absence; nature.
The debate over an elected mayor for Birmingham is not over, as far as the idea's supporters are concerned.
Proposals for elected mayors were defeated in nine out of the ten cities which held referendums on May 3. In Birmingham, 57.8 per cent of voters opposed a mayor with 42.2 per cent in favour, while 63.6 per cent voted against the idea in Coventry with just 36.4 per cent in favour.
But supporters of change insist local government in cities like Birmingham cannot continue as it is.
As we report in today's Birmingham Post, the city's "yes" campaign is to hold a meeting next month on the way forward. They hope to attract politicians, business leaders and other members of the public. A date has yet to be confirmed.