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Sir Albert Bore forecasts boom times for Birmingham ‘on the journey back to prosperity’

Sir Albert Bore forecasts boom times for Birmingham ‘on the journey back to prosperity’

🕔09.Jun 2015

Birmingham is set to experience an economic boom the like of which has not been seen since the glory years of the 1950s and 60s, Sir Albert Bore insisted today.

In a surprisingly upbeat and optimistic leader’s policy statement to the city council, he predicted that 2015 would be when Birmingham grasped economic opportunities not seen for decades and a “special year in the journey back to prosperity”.

“It is time for a further renaissance and a rebirth of the city’s economy – a Birmingham Boom,” Sir Albert added. He continued:

This is a time of great optimism for the Birmingham economy, but also a time of many challenges for the people of the city and for this city council.

I am confident that we will rise to those challenges – indeed we are already doing so.

This is a time for us to be bold and to accept the need for rapid change.  It is a time to turn the page and write a new chapter in the history of the council.

I believe that in the years ahead we will see a level of economic success we have not seen for fifty years.

Promising to make Birmingham the enterprise capital of the UK and a natural home for entrepreneurs, Sir Albert declared:

The council that I lead will always have economic prosperity and business growth close to its heart.

He went out of his way, as a Labour leader of Birmingham, to praise two Tory Ministers – Greg Clark, the Local Government Secretary, and Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary. He described Mr Clark as a “constructive and positive partner” for Birmingham in taking forward the devolution agenda, while Mr McLoughlin was a “key ally” of HS2.

He did not, for once, dwell on the council’s financial woes or go into any detail about the hundreds of millions of pounds of cuts to services that will have to be found over the next few years, although he admitted that “early signs are not promising” with the Chancellor having stepped up his public sector savings commitment.

There was no direct mention of the highly critical Kerslake Review into the council’s governance capabilities, but Sir Albert did emphasise the importance of delivering the Future Council Programme which is based on improvement recommendations handed down by Kerslake.

He admitted that the council had been under-performing for a long time:

If we are honest, all of us must accept that the weaknesses of the council organisation have been apparent for many years.  In some areas we have not been bold or radical enough in moving with the times, modernising what we do and how we do it.

However, he insisted the council was now “on the front foot designing our own plans for change and improvement and focusing not on the past but on what we are going to do to make things better in the future”. Sir Albert continued:

We are getting back in control of our own destiny and these will be Birmingham’s improvement plans, not those of the government or anyone else.

The future council will have at its heart a much stronger emphasis on partnership working and integration between different services.

Addressing criticism by Kerslake of the council’s failure to work effectively with other stakeholder organisations, he said: “We have begun the process of developing a new City Partnership Group through which the overall vision for the city will be set.  But this will be part of a wide network of partnerships to deliver specific services and objectives.”

He concluded:

Our aspiration must be to build a Future Council that is worthy of the heritage of this great city.

Our future local government may not have the paternalism and the grand ideals that inspired the building of this Council House in Chamberlain’s day.

But we can still aspire to create a local democracy and local public services that inspire a sense of ownership and pride in Birmingham people.

And we can still inspire people with the capacity for democratic action to bring about change for the better and the capacity of public servants to change the lives of people every day.

It is not about pursuing ideological models of the future of local government which result in mass outsourcing to large corporations and the loss of all democratic control for local people.

It is about creating an organisation that can achieve the outcomes we want and Birmingham people want, within the resources we have available.

The alternative is a rapid decline, leaving a residual and threadbare safety net of services.

Change will be difficult.  But we have set out the direction and the principles that should guide us and the outcomes we want to improve.  That must be our disciplined focus in the years to come.

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