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Council overseer becomes Queen’s man in the region

Council overseer becomes Queen’s man in the region

🕔03.Jan 2017

John Crabtree, who chairs the Improvement Panel overseeing the implementation of the Kerslake Review into Birmingham city council, is the new Lord-Lieutenant for the West Midlands.

The Queen appointed John Crabtree OBE as Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for the West Midlands on the advice of the Prime Minister. He starts in the role today.

Mr Crabtree succeeds Paul Sabapathy CBE who retired early from the position in 2015 following the leak of a private email which contained controversial criticisms of the British Pakistani community.

John Crabtree was already a Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands and has also served as High Sheriff of the West Midlands.

Ironically given his new royal duties, Chamberlain Files understands that Mr Crabtree was suffering over Christmas and, much like the Queen, was laid up rather than fully enjoying the festive period. We hope he – and HM The Queen – are back to full health for the start of the working year.

The Lord-Lieutenant is Her Majesty The Queen’s representative in the West Midlands and is charged with “upholding the dignity of the Crown”. The area covers Birmingham, Solihull, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Dudley and Sandwell. It is the second largest Lieutenancy in the country with a population of more than 2.8 million.

Commenting on the appointment, Mr Crabtree said:

I am extremely honoured to have been appointed to this significant role. Since 2005, I have been privileged to serve as a Deputy Lieutenant and I now look forward to working with my Deputy Lieutenants representing Her Majesty the Queen in the West Midlands.

This is a rich and diverse community with both a proud and industrial heritage as well as being home to some of the UK’s largest and most innovative companies.

We can also be proud of our vibrant cultural activities as well as being at the heart of the country’s transport network that enables us to host UK and worldwide events.

I will do all that I am able to serve the West Midlands.

The appointment process was overseen by the Cabinet Office which Chamberlain Files understands consulted widely in the region. The mandatory retirement age for the position is 75.

Mr Crabtree was senior partner of Wragge & Co (now Gowling WLG), the leading Birmingham-based law firm.

He has several business interests and is highly regarded for his chairmanships of the Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust and the national charity for the deafblind, SENSE.

Given his business and charitable interests as well as recent government and now royal appointments, John Crabtree OBE might be considered the ‘establishment man’ of the West Midlands. Chamberlain Files understands that some representations were made to reform the role, including appointing a younger representative as well as reflecting the diversity of the region and limiting the term of office.

With the appointment of the region’s first Mayor in May and the triggering of Article 50 to exit the European Union in the next three months, 2017 is set to be a milestone year in regional and national politics. Meanwhile, just before Christmas Buckingham Palace announced The Queen was stepping down from some of her 600 charitable patronages. It is part of a continuing process of winding down some of her and the Duke of Edinburgh’s duties as the Prince of Wales and his sons take on more engagements.

So, the stage is set for the new Lord-Lieutenant to play a part in reshaping the office for the future as well as where and how senior members of the Royal Family engage in the life of the West Midlands.

Mr Crabtree continues to chair the Birmingham Independent Improvement Panel overseeing Birmingham City Council’s implementation of the recommendations of the Kerslake Review of the governance and organisational capabilities of Birmingham city council. The Panel, which recently sent the Communities Secretary it latest update saying the Council still faces a mammoth task, will continue until at least the Spring of this year.

A former President of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry, John Crabtree also served as a director of Advantage West Midlands, the former regional development agency, for seven years until its abolition in 2012.

The duties of a Lord-Lieutenant in the West Midlands include:

  • arranging and co-ordinating Royal Visits to the County and attending on Royalty during official visits to the County;
  • performing certain duties in connection with the armed forces of the crown and in particular the reserve and cadet forces;
  • making presentations of honours and awards on behalf of the Crown such as British Empire Medals, Queen’s Awards for Enterprise and Queen’s Awards for Voluntary Service;
  • encouraging charitable and voluntary work and local initiatives to benefit the community;
  • promoting and encouraging nominations for Honours and Queen’s Awards for the county of the West Midlands.

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