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Mayoral mail lost in post?

Mayoral mail lost in post?

🕔29.Mar 2017

Please, please, Mr. Postman
Why’s it takin’ such a long time
For me to hear from that mayoral candidate of mine?

Charles Smith posts that he’s still waiting for mayoral mail.

Last month, I wrote to each of the mayoral candidates with what I believe was a well thought out letter asking for their response to a number of key questions facing the region they are hoping to lead. I didn’t think they were particularly challenging but sadly though, I have not received one single reply. Not even an acknowledgement – or even an election manifesto. My post box and my inbox have remained resolutely empty.

So just in case you happen to bump into one of the candidates or attend a hustings, I thought I’d share them with visitors to the Chamberlain Files.

1. The perception of the West Midlands, particularly versus other regions e.g. Northern Powerhouse.

I made the point that the West Midlands is arguably the best located region for business in the UK with excellent communications to the rest of the country without the disadvantages of over-crowding, excessively high commercial property values and unaffordable housing costs – all symptoms of London and the south east where they are much more exposed to the financial markets in this context.

How would they meet the challenge of raising the visibility of the West Midlands particularly in Whitehall, and how would they hope to increase the number of re-locations from London and the south east to the West Midlands?

How also would they propose attracting the attention of a government that seems more interested in the north of England (Northern Powerhouse) than the West Midlands (Midlands Engine)?

READ: Your stage awaits…

2. Attracting overseas investment.

Corporate real estate investment, particularly offices in London, has declined from a recent peak in 2013 of more than £10Bn a quarter to around £3Bn in the third quarter of 2016. There is an opportunity for the West Midlands, alongside other UK regions, to take advantage of that decline and attract investment that is not now being directed to London.

How would each of the candidates promote the region to the world and capitalise on the West Midlands’ industrial and manufacturing heritage combined with today’s specialisms in automotive technology, advanced health and life sciences?

READ: Getting Down to Business.

3. The stature of the West Midlands.

There remains, sadly, a stigma that has for too long been attached to the West Midlands which undermines its growth potential. Whilst progress has been made, and there is an increase in the number of visitors to the region, we still lack the positive image that certain other cities attract. Coventry is bidding for Capital of Culture; Birmingham is bidding to hold the Commonwealth Games.

How important is a positive image for the West Midlands as a whole, its cities, towns and surrounding areas?

What might be done to further improve it? What would the candidates do to both promote and support these bids?

READ: Is there a Donald in their midst?

4. The opportunities and consequences afforded by HS2.

My clients and I are supporters of increased investment in the transport infrastructure and whilst there continues to be debate about the desirability of a high speed rail network, the opportunity to significantly increase capacity is one that must be grasped. But there also needs to be a support infrastructure. Whereas in London annual transport spend per capita is £1,869 in the West Midlands it is just £266 – 1/7 of that in the capital. This is a travesty of justice.

How would each of the candidates promote the need for increased investment in the transport infrastructure as a whole and place greater emphasis on public transport in a region that has traditionally lacked the ability to invest in that infrastructure? How would they redress the balance?

Should you get an answer, do please let me know. I would love to hear from somebody – even if it is not one of the candidates direct. You can reach me at: charles.smith@bostonfieldgate.com

Charles Smith is managing director of commercial property advisers Boston Fieldgate.

The Birmingham Public Debate is being held at the Patrick Centre at Birmingham Hippodrome, courtesy of DanceXchange, in partnership with the Birmingham Mail and supported by the West Midlands Combined Authority, the University of Warwick, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce and Centre for Cities. It takes place next Tuesday evening, 4th April.

Tickets are being allocated by the Birmingham Mail here.

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