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The Chamberlain Files

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What does our ‘Money In, Money Out’ devo equation look like? 

16 May 17

Instead of just six, we might easily have had at least nine new Combined Authority (CA) mayors by now – a whole baseball team of them – and a very…


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A Right Mayor of a Week 

11 May 17

What a week that’s been – not least for new West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street, who will tomorrow chair his first meeting of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), writes…


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WM Mayor: What happened to the others? 

8 May 17

Inevitably, the focus on the contest for West Midlands Mayor is now all on the winner, Andy Street, with a bit of space left for the candidate who lost out…


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New chair to take helm at WMCA – but, what’s it been up to? 

5 May 17

It’s all over bar the counting, writes Kevin Johnson, as Mayoral candidates turn their attention from campaigning back to the WMCA.


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How to cast your vote(s) – a cautionary tale from the polling station 

4 May 17

I popped along to vote this morning, writes Chris Game.


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First Mayor, Last Push 

3 May 17

Elections, elections.


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Will the Mayoral election be decided by Supplementary Votes? 

29 Apr 17

A few of you saddos possibly spent last Sunday afternoon tele-watching the Arsenal-Manchester City FA Cup semi-final.


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Does Birmingham have no monumental non-royal women? 

27 Apr 17

An early General Election prediction: fewer women than men will vote on June 8th – as in every recent General Election.


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Early election alert! Fake facts hit Ladywood 

20 Apr 17

As the world now knows, ‘Brenda from Bristol’ – or #Brenda4PM or Brenda “Not another one?” to her new followers – isn’t a fan of all this voting business.


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Politics continues to surprise, but will Brenda be bothered? 

19 Apr 17

So, who was surprised at 11.00am yesterday morning as the Prime Minister declared her wish to call a General Election, subject to the provisions of the Fixed Term Parliament Act…


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Forget Metro Mayors – parliamentary elections where candidates can outnumber voters 

2 Apr 17

With the appearance of the ‘Great Repeal Bill’ and now barely 726 days left in which to reach a Brexit deal, I thought Files devotees might appreciate a quick run…


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The Death of Devolution or a Vow to Save the UK? 

31 Mar 17

There is a view shared by a number of commentators that we are witnessing the ‘death of devolution.


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Mayoral mail lost in post? 

29 Mar 17

Please, please, Mr.


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Metro Mayor: Your stage awaits…. 

29 Mar 17

One of the criticisms of the campaign to be the first elected Mayor of the West Midlands is that there is little to choose between the five main candidates and…


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Metro Mayor: Getting Down to Business 

28 Mar 17

You may (or may not) have noticed: we’re going to be electing a West Midlands Mayor on the 4th May, writes Henrietta Brealey.


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Metro Mayors: how to big-up without overselling 

21 Mar 17

Tomorrow sees the second of four Public Debates with all five main Mayoral candidates.


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GE2017: shift attention from one by calling another? 

20 Mar 17

There was plenty of media speculation over the weekend about the possibility of Theresa May trumping George Osborne’s news headlines by calling an early General Election.


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Midlands Engine – what is really under the bonnet? 

14 Mar 17

The Midlands Engine Strategy, published last week, has been warmly welcomed by most business leaders and politicians.


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Mayoral race – odds, sods and some stats 

13 Mar 17

Last September, shortly after my last Files blog specifically about the parties’ and candidates’ prospects in May’s metro mayoral elections, bets on the newly adopted Conservative candidate, Andy Street, were…


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And then there were five….no, six 

9 Mar 17

After a number of hustings featuring just three or four mayoral candidates, the first Public Debate took place this week with all five candidates.


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Council Crisis – well, we never expected sympathy 

27 Feb 17

Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s first chief-of-staff and now Chicago mayor, is the accredited author of the tactic of never letting a serious crisis go to waste – the reasoning being…


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That was the week that was 

27 Feb 17

Well, what a week.


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Business rates revaluation – or making Team Trump look like a ‘fine-tuned machine’ 

23 Feb 17

As a former Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport, the now Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, will be well aware that when a football club boss expresses “full confidence…


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Council Chief: the hard work starts now 

20 Feb 17

And so Birmingham starts its search for another new Chief Executive, writes Andy Howell.


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Council CEO to leave: the story behind the story 

19 Feb 17

On Saturday night, we broke the story that Mark Rogers, chief executive of Birmingham city council since early 2014, would be leaving the Council this week.


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Turn on all the taps, but non-statutory approach to regional planning is missed opportunity 

16 Feb 17

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Board will consider the final report of its Land Commission at its meeting today.


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Birmingham’s ‘literacy crisis,’ although none measured in making of report 

16 Feb 17

It’s hard to tell if last week was an exceptional one for crises, because there are ‘CRISIS!’ headlines nowadays for almost anything that temporarily falls short of our media-stoked expectations…


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Nielsen: get the West Midlands moving and our productivity will motor too 

9 Feb 17

Integrated transport is a vital element of our productivity challenge in the West Midlands, says LibDem candidate for Metro Mayor Beverley Nielsen.


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Staging the Debates 

8 Feb 17

In many ways, today is one of the days for which the Chamberlain Files was started.


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Big city leaders to follow in footsteps of Chamberlain 

26 Jan 17

The Core Cities group of leading UK councils will meet in Birmingham’s Highbury Hall, the ancestral home of Joseph Chamberlain, for an ‘industrial strategy summit’ tomorrow.


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Integration: A two way street 

21 Jan 17

The Casey Review:  “A review into opportunity and integration” (Dec 2016) is not the first, nor do I doubt, the last report that will be published on the subject of integration…


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Council budget: a challenging task made even harder 

14 Jan 17

So where had we got to with the City Council’s 2017/18 Budget before we were so inconveniently interrupted, asks Chris Game?  No, I don’t mean the Christmas/New Year interruption, which…


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Former council deputy leader calls for all party plan and more openness on budget 

13 Jan 17

The saga of government intervention at Birmingham City Council saw a new development this week with the publication of an independent ‘Peer Review’ into the Labour leadership’s proposed budget for…


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Did England’s Indian cricket thrashing start here in Birmingham? 

9 Jan 17

England’s international cricketers have returned to India this week, as part of what might well qualify as a cruel and unusual punishment – the US Constitution’s term for a penalty…


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Metro Mayor: Are you stepping up UKIP? 

5 Jan 17

There are four months to go to the first mayoral election in the West Midlands and we can expect the campaign to move up a gear in the coming days…


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Brexit: what’s the plan? 

4 Jan 17

Yesterday, Sir Ivan Rogers, the UK Permanent Representative to the European Union (the country’s most senior ambassador in Brussels), resigned early from his post.


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Health and social care need radical reform 

29 Dec 16

The crisis in social care is well documented, with numerous heart-rending stories of people unable to access basic care due to the significant cuts local authorities are facing since the…


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Local government’s movers and shakers for 2017 

28 Dec 16

It’s the end of the year, so obviously that requires a list or two.


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Highways help already on its way – PCC 

21 Dec 16

As the team at the Files begin to wind down for the festive break, ahead of the run-up to the inaugural West Midlands mayoral election in May 2017, we begin to conclude the year with the…


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Second highway hearing as WMPCC tackles congestion and cuts 

16 Dec 16

Whilst transport remains a key issues for mayoral candidates – including the debate over nationalising the M6 Toll – the region’s only currently elected figure David Jamieson is holding a…


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The Big Job 

16 Dec 16

It would be far too easy to take a glance at the candidates to be the first West Midlands Mayor and say they are too similar and too closely aligned…


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Austerity, so-called devolution and the social care crisis 

15 Dec 16

Like the editor of the Files, I’m a Guardian reader, and in this Tuesday’s edition there were two articles of particular interest to me as someone who for many years…


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Order order: the mayoral power play 

9 Dec 16

If you were in any doubt about the level of excitement and anticipation felt towards the prospect of a Metro Mayor joining council leaders around the West Midlands Combined Authority…


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A red, white and blue Brexit – but which one? 

8 Dec 16

Nothing immediately to do with Birmingham, or even the West Midlands – but that never stopped the Files’ late blogmeister, Paul Dale.


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Birmingham’s political dividing line: austerity anger v financial incompetence 

7 Dec 16

If you are a fan of passionate parliamentary debates, then yesterday’s debate on a vote of no confidence in the leadership of Birmingham City Council is actually worth a watch.


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Civic JAM – our ‘Just About Managing’ councils 

7 Dec 16

It was a short seven-word sentence that really struck me: “Budget cuts for 2017-18 total around £100m.


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Has May finally decided she can win the mayoral battle? 

28 Nov 16

If you were in any doubt before last Wednesday about where we’d got to on devolution, you didn’t need to watch or even read the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement; just do…


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Birmingham’s budget crunch time 

25 Nov 16

Birmingham’s Labour Group of councillors meets tomorrow with the 2017/2018 budget top of the agenda.


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Brand new West Midlands Police and Crime Plan published 

23 Nov 16

These pages may have been overtaken by the long, slow build up to the contest for the first West Midlands elected mayor next May.


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Who should be blamed – sorry, held to account? 

21 Nov 16

As council leaders and senior officers prepare the 2017/18 budget for its first test – Birmingham’s Labour Group this weekend – Chris Game ponders questions of accountability in the wake…


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Can the election favourite be Trumped in the West Midlands? 

17 Nov 16

It appears a close run contest in the weeks leading up to polling day.


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What if Birmingham were an American city that had just voted Democrat? 

15 Nov 16

It will surely mystify future historians that the Chamberlain Files was apparently the only public affairs platform not to have anyone sharing their views, insights, despair or alarm about the…


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West Midlands needs a strategic spatial plan, fast. 

31 Oct 16

Mike Best, director of Turley Associates and deputy chair of Colmore Business District, lays out an interim plan for spatial planning across the WMCA area.


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Birmingham retail booms as West Midlands shuts up shop. What’s the price? 

31 Oct 16

A PwC report last week revealed a decrease in retailers on the high streets in the West Midlands, while Birmingham and other local centres boom.


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Recovery and renaissance, but serious issues remain beyond the core 

31 Oct 16

As the leader of the council and his chief executive take joint hold a keyboard to underline Birmingham’s recent advances, their commitment and optimism face dual and daunting challenges.


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Birmingham praised for exposing savings, not reform-based, STP pressures 

25 Oct 16

Birmingham city council’s defiant decision to publish its draft Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) before being checked by national NHS officials is being seen as an important moment in the…


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Force has very serious questions to answer – Police Commissioner 

21 Oct 16

Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson has commissioned a report into the failings of the force following the conviction of former West Midlands Police officer Allan Richards for dozens of sex…


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Let’s hear it for our local councils – they must be doing something right 

20 Oct 16

If local government were an Olympic sport, the French would surely call for a drugs test – possibly of the spectators, writes Chris Game.


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Five years and a million words later, Paul Dale bids a fond farewell to the Files 

13 Oct 16

And so, the end is near.


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What did the circus leave behind? 

10 Oct 16

So, the conference circus has left town and won’t be back for another two years.