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It’s time to raise Birmingham’s ‘big issues’ with the Tories in town

It’s time to raise Birmingham’s ‘big issues’ with the Tories in town

🕔25.Sep 2014

As Labour wraps up in Manchester, the Tories start rolling into town with security measures coming into place around the ICC. Paul Dale looks ahead to Birmingham’s opportunity to shine in the media – and bend some ministerial ears. 

Public and private organisations are ready to take advantage of next week’s Conservative conference in Birmingham by raising the ‘big issues’ of regional devolution, connectivity, improved infrastructure and support for the creative industries.

With everyone of any importance from the Government in town from Sunday to Wednesday, there’s never been a better time to lobby for Birmingham’s interests.

And with over 300 conference fringe evens planned, many to be attended by Ministers, there will be plenty of opportunities to influence the decision makers.

The conference fringe kicks off on Sunday evening at 6.30 with a welcoming event hosted by city council leader Sir Albert Bore. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles will make a speech, as well as Sir Albert.

The reception, at the Library of Birmingham, is being staged by Marketing Birmingham and Centre for Cities, and is sponsored by Resorts World Birmingham, the leisure and entertainment complex which opens at the NEC next year.

Sir Albert may wish to draw a veil over his remarks two years ago when he cast doubt on the value of bidding to bring political conferences to Birmingham. He did not believe events such as the Tory gathering brought any long lasting economic benefit.

But the latest estimate from Marketing Birmingham is that the four-day Conservative conference will generate a £17 million boost for the local economy, as well as the incalculable value of being able to bend the ears of cabinet members and other ministers.

Coming just over a week after the result of the Scottish independence referendum, the conference fringe will be buzzing with speculation about the prime minister’s pledge to “empower our great cities” through English devolution.

The ThinkBirmingham campaign, which aims to explore exactly what the city could achieve through fiscal freedom and more powers to boost prosperity, economic growth and wellbeing, is partnering with the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce to staging the first in a series of events on Monday September 29 at 5.30 at the offices of Squire Patton Boggs, Rutland House, 148 Edmund Street, Birmingham.

The Conservative Arts and Creative Industries Network (CACIN) will hold various sessions, introducing themes such as ‘Access to finance in the creative industries’, and ‘The role of intellectual property in building a creative nation’. Afternoon and evening sessions are due to take place at Fazeley Studios in Digbeth on Monday 29th September.

Academic institutions looking to showcase themselves at  the conference include Birmingham City University, who are hosting a session entitled ‘Pipedream or plausible – a manufacturing revival?’

On Tuesday at Jury’s Inn hotel, Broad Street, starting at 1pm, Transport Times Events will host “Great transport for great cities:  How important is infrastructure for rebalancing our economy?” Speakers will include Sir Albert Bore; Leader of Birmingham City Council, Professor David Begg; Chief Executive of Transport Times, Robert Goodwill MP; Transport Minister, and Paul Kehoe; Chief Executive of Birmingham Airport.

This year will mark the 11th political party conference the city has welcomed in the last six years, thanks to a collaborative approach between Marketing Birmingham, Birmingham City Council and the NEC Group.

Catherine Newhall-Caiger, Business Development Director from the ICC said: “We have worked closely with our city partners to organise the Conservative Party Conference at the ICC. High profile conferences like this have a considerable impact on the city and the surrounding area; we’re expecting Birmingham to benefit from a £17 million boost to the local economy, making this the city’s most economically significant political party conference to date.”

For a full list of Conservative conference fringe events and other useful information, see here.

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