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The Chamberlain Files

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Brexit: time for business 

18 Jul 18

Brexit: have so many words ever been written about one political issue? Probably not.


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Game: I don’t live in a 90% (or 100%) Labour city 

12 Jul 18

Well, last week certainly had its excitements, didn’t it?  First, that penalty shoot-out business.


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Council: ‘time is running out,’ but when? 

29 Jun 18

“Time is running out and we need to see real progress.


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Culture: time for Mayoral leadership? 

28 Jun 18

As the crisis in the cultural sector deepens, Andy Howell asks is it time for the Mayor and Combined Authority to take a greater lead? Models of Municipal Mayors vary…


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Commissions: will resources follow recommendations? 

20 Jun 18

It is commission reporting season, apparently.


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Devolution: dead or default? 

14 Jun 18

Two seemingly opposite but not mutually exclusive diagnoses of the state of devolution emerged from the International Business Festival in Liverpool yesterday, writes Kevin Johnson.


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Introducing the Renaissance Mayor 

13 Jun 18

It’s been another milestone week for the West Midlands Mayor.


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Deal or no deal, professionally speaking? 

6 Jun 18

The potential for a ‘Sector Deal’ for the professional services sector and the challenges of doing business in the post-Brexit era are highlighted by Hilary Smyth-Allen, Executive Director of BPS…


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Council: Ward breaks new boundaries 

17 May 18

Ian Ward may have been the leader of Birmingham city council for little more than six months, but he’s already achieved two things of significance that eluded his immediate predecessor…


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Never mind who you voted for, where did you do it? 

14 May 18

They’ve become a standard feature of the election season – complaints about the complete or partial closure of schools selected as polling stations.


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Andy’s Anniversary: two questions 

5 May 18

We didn’t have time or space to mark the anniversary of the first Mayoral contest in the West Midlands yesterday.


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Vote2018: polling day manifesto summary 

3 May 18

With the polls open, you’ll have already scoured each of the manifestos to determine where to place your vote in elections for Birmingham city council, writes Kevin Johnson.


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Vote2018: Thursday’s other West Midlands elections 

2 May 18

The media focus on this week’s council elections, we’re told, will be principally on London.


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Gender pay gaps: how West Midlands councils compare 

16 Apr 18

At the risk of hyperbole, this month’s required publication by nearly 10,000 companies and public sector organisations of comparable gender pay gap data bears a certain resemblance to Winston Churchill’s…


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VOTE2018: Council battlegrounds on 3 May 

16 Apr 18

With the Commonwealth Games baton handed to Birmingham and as schools and offices return from Easter breaks – including here at Chamberlain Files towers – Kevin Johnson looks at the…


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This year’s council tax experience – how was it for you? 

3 Apr 18

With local elections exactly one month away and the new tax year arriving in three days, Chris Game takes a look at what’s happening to council tax around the country.


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May must be near – councils are in the news 

22 Mar 18

You know May is approaching, not with an upturn in the weather, but when local government starts to receive national attention, writes Kevin Johnson.


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Daily Mail’s right about local government’s C-word – why make it so easy for them? 

19 Mar 18

With the dust settled on MIPIM in Cannes, Chris Game reflects on why the C-word causes so much trouble in local government circles.


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As with nerve agents, Brexit regional impact is all about exposure 

13 Mar 18

It’s Not-the-Budget Day.


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Housing shortfall down but challenge remains 

12 Mar 18

At the start of what could be an important week for housing in the West Midlands, Mike Best reflects on the long-awaited and much-anticipated Greater Birmingham HMA (Housing Market Area) Strategic Growth…


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Three years – finance and culture challenges remain 

8 Mar 18

Reading the latest letter to Sajid Javid, this time jointly from Panel chair John Crabtree and Council leader Ian Ward, it would be easy to forget that more than three…


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Skills: a crisis of aspiration? 

5 Mar 18

As I listened into the latest city skills debate last week, the most striking aspect was that which was not said, writes Kevin Johnson.


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Procuring the future 

1 Mar 18

Local procurement multipliers deliver inclusivity, competitive collaboration, new products and new IP – but too often current public procurement is failing to deliver the innovations required for sustainable growth, writes…


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Birmingham does cranes…and skills debates 

27 Feb 18

If you walk around Birmingham city centre, you can’t help but bump into one of two things.


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Combined Authorities ARE local government: WMCA CEO learns the hard way 

26 Feb 18

Want a recipe for a one-day conference leaving your austerity-battered punters feeling both happy and entertained?  Try this: pick a plush venue in London Town, get one of your three…


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Inclusivity or productivity – or both? 

22 Feb 18

Increasing labour productivity has been the holy grail of government policy for many years.


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Destroying Oxfam is not in public interest 

15 Feb 18

My twitter profile identifies me, inter alia, as a disheartened centrist and internationalist.


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Teamwork becomes slightly more taxing 

10 Feb 18

Yesterday’s meeting of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) confirmed at least one political truth for Mayor Andy Street, writes Kevin Johnson.


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Car, Sprint or Streetcars 

8 Feb 18

Beverley Nielsen, the Lib Dem candidate for West Midlands Mayor last year, looks at ‘intermediate options’ on transport for Mayor Street.


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A brand new Countdown begins 

6 Feb 18

It was at 4.45pm on 2nd November 1982 that Channel 4 started broadcasting.


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President’s Club: charitable questions 

30 Jan 18

Having spent twenty-five years working in and around the private and third sectors, I’ve been asked a lot about the coverage of The President’s Club dinner, writes Sarah Gee.


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How Birmingham’s past can inspire Brexit Britain’s future 

24 Jan 18

As Britain heads out the door of the European Union, where’s the game plan for how we thrive in the brave new world that’s coming, asks Labour’s Liam Byrne?  It’s…


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Ed Doolan: radio icon, local hero 

18 Jan 18

In 1974 an Australian born, former teacher joined the newly launched commercial radio station, BRMB.


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Last week’s ‘Andy who?’ is this week’s ‘Andy wow!’ 

18 Jan 18

I hold no brief whatever for the West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street, and have been critical, including in these columns, of aspects of both his election campaign and his eight…


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Sometimes only single-minded mavericks can succeed 

17 Jan 18

If the health police haven’t yet been alerted, they’d jolly well better be, writes Paul Dale.


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Welcome to politics, Mr Mayor 

15 Jan 18

After seven months in the role, Andy Street has discovered that being a Metro Mayor is a political job after all, writes Kevin Johnson.


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Reshuffle Kerfuffle – what does it mean for the West Midlands? 

8 Jan 18

New Year, new Government.


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Time to review region’s green belt 

20 Dec 17

Conservationists will probably be delighted to learn that West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has thrown his weight behind a campaign to save the Dudley green belt, writes Paul Dale.


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Tourist charge shouldn’t depend on the Games 

13 Dec 17

Did you notice the wording of the Birmingham Post’s front-page Commonwealth Games story last week – about how the Government might be “willing to give the green light to a…


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A week? A day is a long time in politics 

9 Dec 17

From City of Culture to the Commonwealth Games (with “sufficient progress” in the Brexit negotiations thrown in), it was quite a 24 hours on the regional political scene.


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Facts, figures and fighting fallacies 

30 Nov 17

I am not sure whether to be depressed or delighted with a handy little booklet that has been produced by City-REDI, The Research Institute at The University of Birmingham.


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Why should Milton Keynes’ parking charge surpluses be bigger than Birmingham’s? 

29 Nov 17

In the week when annual parking returns provide the basis for some colourful tabloid headlines, Chris Game looks at the local political balancing act involved in car parking and parking…


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Devo Deal II: How does it stack up? 

24 Nov 17

If you could assess the depth of a devolution deal by pages or clauses, the second version is definitely progress.


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Budget 2017: Fit for the next few days? 

22 Nov 17

We have become used to observing Budgets which produce last minute rabbits and grab bold headlines on the day, only to disintegrate as economists pore over the fine detail in…


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Will Budget Day trigger Street’s Devo 2.0? 

22 Nov 17

Back in July, as Andy Street stood with his friend and Business Secretary Greg Clark to talk about the forthcoming Industrial Strategy at the University of Birmingham, there was no…


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STEM shortfall risks growth stall 

15 Nov 17

The West Midlands is facing a big problem – and it is one that has to be tackled by politicians, business, educators and parents.


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2022 should be Living Wage Commonwealth Games 

6 Nov 17

Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council and long-time driving force behind the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 project, aspires to deliver “the best ever Commonwealth Games” in 2022, writes Waseem…


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New approach needed for investment across region 

6 Nov 17

In my previous piece, I set out how the Government should be radically redefining the economic model through nationalising key industrial sectors, whilst businesses should be looking at the social…


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Mayors: Does Bloomberg have lessons for Street? 

1 Nov 17

As seven Mayors meet together for the first time in London today, Chris Game wonders why the West Midlands Mayor has not availed himself of a leadership programme inspired by…


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Will the train take the brand strain? 

26 Oct 17

It’s difficult to know which is more complex.


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Boardrooms should focus on the social line as well as bottom line 

25 Oct 17

Earlier today, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce released its latest Economic Review which underlined the skills issues faced by the region, whilst official figures this morning show national economic growth…


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Two Mirror images of Birmingham’s housing 

19 Oct 17

It was Aristotle who supposedly reckoned that one swallow doesn’t make a summer, or even a fine day, writes Chris Game as he takes a look in the Mirror.


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The colour (and gender) of power 

12 Oct 17

As a blogger, I see myself as a kind of Middlesbrough in the Premier League: beigey, writes Chris Game.


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If we’re going to have conference willy-waving, let’s get the measurements right 

1 Oct 17

As the Conservative Party Conference gets under way in Manchester, which will feature Andy Street as one of its most successful politicians, Chamberlain Files allows Chris Game a well judged…


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Diving deep into the professional sector to drive productivity 

28 Sep 17

Establishing ‘Commissions’ to consider evidence, opine and then recommend on key topics linked to regional life appears to be the order of the day; dare I say, a political fashion…


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Diluted reforms, but tackling dysfunctional boards even more important 

26 Sep 17

The watering down of suggested reforms to how companies are run has been the focus of attention recently, especially in relation to boardroom pay.


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Clancygate: impact of change on local news media 

14 Sep 17

One of the more worrying features of the climax of Clancygate is the way in which the Council’s official statements — both that from the Interim Chief Executive and from…


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Council in Crisis? Blame the media! 

13 Sep 17

As I read John Clancy’s resignation statement, one passage stood out – not least as it came before admitting that he had made mistakes, writes Kevin Johnson.


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Clancy: what’s the legacy? 

12 Sep 17

Just twenty months is not a long time in which to develop an enduring legacy as a political leader.


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Policy tsars – stupid name, but are they useful? 

11 Sep 17

I’d have bet money on at least one turning up in time for my recent round-up of the six Combined Authority mayors’ first 100 days.