Birmingham news and blogs Thursday 19 April 2018
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The Chamberlain Files

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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.


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Clancy: Three days, three outcomes 

11 Sep 17

John Clancy, Labour’s leader of Birmingham city council, faces his toughest three days in the job.


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Boards must take positive action to appoint Muslims 

31 Aug 17

The issue of Muslim participation in public life has been laid bare in a ground-breaking report by a Citizens Commission: Islam, Participation and Public Life, chaired by the former Attorney General…


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Did you have your say on Birmingham’s health reforms? 

24 Aug 17

You might not know this but the people of Birmingham have just missed the chance to give a view on one of the biggest changes to the way health services…


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Around the Metro Mayors in 100 days 

23 Aug 17

Better, it’s said, to be criticised than ignored – even when, as here, it leads to one having to apologise, writes Chris Game.


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Council: it’s not all rubbish 

17 Aug 17

Yesterday’s announcement of a suspension of industrial action by Unite the union in the dispute with Birmingham city council over refuse reforms will come as welcome news to residents.


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Combined Authority logos – do they do it for you? 

14 Aug 17

With branding of the West Midlands, as ever, under discussion and the Midlands Engine currently looking to develop a campaign brand, Chris Game wonders if anyone recognises any of the…


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Simon: Street has failed and made no difference 

11 Aug 17

Andy Street won the mayoral election by under 4,000 more votes than main rival Siôn Simon.


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What should the Mayor do on skills & housing? 

10 Aug 17

Andy Street says that negotiations have started over Devolution Deal II and that skills and housing will be the main strands when announced in the Chancellor’s Budget.


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Hyphenated bowlers and other cricketing trivia 

7 Aug 17

Back in January I ventured a blog lamenting the paucity of Birmingham-born international England cricketers.


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Street: 10 days ‘til the big 100 – what’s the score? 

7 Aug 17

The fabled 100 day marker is in sight and Andy Street is heading towards it with the air of a student cramming for an exam.


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Combined Authority decides not to rename 

18 Jul 17

A controversial proposal to change the title of the combined authority and adopt the name of its biggest city along with the term ‘city region’ has been dropped, writes Kevin Johnson.


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Review: WMCA makes a digital mark 

30 Jun 17

Only last week the Chamberlain Files editorial team was commenting on the website of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) hardly reflecting the personality of its energetic new Mayor.


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Boundary changes and fewer MPs: is it now just fantasy? 

30 Jun 17

In an attempt to push the boundaries (or should that be contract them), Chris Game reviews the parliamentary boundary changes – something likely to be an entirely academic exercise.