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Clancy welcomes Tories to Birmingham with nod to ‘Chamberlain’s municipal socialism’

Clancy welcomes Tories to Birmingham with nod to ‘Chamberlain’s municipal socialism’

🕔03.Oct 2016

Birmingham city council leader John Clancy put the case for inclusive economic growth and evoked the memory of Joseph Chamberlain in a speech to mark the opening of the Conservative conference.

Addressing Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid at a reception held in the Library of Birmingham, Cllr Clancy said the lessons learnt more than 100 years ago – that big social reform makes economic and business sense – were as relevant today as they were in Chamberlain’s day:

Big things are happening in Birmingham now and Chamberlain, I hope, would have approved of our current ambition. He would also have approved of the way this city and this region is shaping its own future.

He did big bold things in and across this city and knew that making the citizens of Birmingham the city economy’s greatest asset , by investing in their lives, their conditions was good business and good economics and made business grow.

Birmingham, a forward looking, ambitious and creative city, could still “learn much from Chamberlain’s municipal socialism”, but needed devolved powers from the Government to deliver economic regeneration he told Tory delegates.

Cllr Clancy continued:

Winston Churchill said Joseph Chamberlain was ‘the man who made the weather’. He was a man who led where others followed.

I like that and just over 100 years after the great man’s death, you can be sure that Chamberlain’s city is ready to once again lead from the front.

So give us the powers and we’ll deliver – not just for Birmingham and the West Midlands – but for Britain.

He addressed head on the issue of the Government’s austerity programme – the council has been forced to cut spending by £500 million since 2010 and must find a further £250 million by 2020:

I don’t believe the former chancellor’s austerity economics has worked for this city, you’d expect me to say that, I think.  But we are where we are and here in Birmingham we will work with the Government to take forward Chamberlain’s vision of civic leadership and social and economic reform.

Actions of course will speak louder than words but I firmly believe that this city and this region can and should be at the forefront of any plan to re-balance, or perhaps better put, to re-found the economy. The Birmingham City Region must be crucial to the development of this nation’s industrial strategy.

For the council leader’s rather lengthy speech at the welcome event, the Communities Secretary kept it remarkably brief. He underlined the importance of devolution in allowing local areas to drive growth and other economic improvements.

The council leader reminded Mr Javid that Birmingham had recently been named Britain’s most enterprising city and was now “Europe’s city of growth”.

He added:

In uncertain times, you can rest assured that Birmingham is getting on with business and we won’t simply ‘adapt’ to the post-Brexit world – we’ll help shape it.

That’s the message from our business community and it is most definitely the message from the city council.

Local leaders of the Conservative group were also present at the reception where Councillor Alden easily won the prize for the most remarkable dress code, giving Jeremy Corbyn a run for his money in that department, whilst the Baron Whitby toured the Library of Birmingham’s book rotunda reminding guests of his role int he public/private partnership.

The council leader listed some recent achievements

  • The £1 billion Curzon Investment Plan to create 4,000 new homes and 36,000 jobs
  • Birmingham’s ambition to bid for the 2026 Commonwealth Games – with the potential to generate £390 million GVA for the local economy
  • A major deal between the council and Chinese property developers Country Garden to bring up to £2 billion of capital from China to Birmingham, for housing and infrastructure.

Cllr Clancy continued:

Birmingham is about more than just the city centre. It’s a joint enterprise,  a common endeavour where every child, every citizen and every place matters. It is, indeed, also a city that works for everyone, investing in inclusive economic growth in every part of the city. A mosaic of inclusive growth hubs.

That investment of £2 billion can be made in homes and infrastructure because it makes business and economic sense. And we’ve not borrowed a penny to do that. We’ve brought the shovel-ready capital here ourselves. And with it will comes jobs, homes and skills and great life chances.

The reception was staged by Centre for Cities and Marketing Birmingham and was sponsored by HSBC which is developing its UK banking HQ on the other side of Centenary Sqaure.

The council leader urged Mr Javid to make sure that the West Midlands Combined Authority’s £8 billion devolution deal was just the start of things to come, and challenged the Government to open talks about the next stage.

It was time to discuss full local control of skills and employment programmes and further powers to manage the public transport and road network – making better use of motorways and finding ways to tackle congestion on the M6.

Birmingham is the mother of invention, the father of enterprise, and our sons and daughters will re-enterprise the world in a new cradle of creative industry, advanced manufacturing and life sciences.

So we’re getting on with the business of creating wealth and opportunities for people across this city region. We’re not simply waiting for an Article 50 starting gun.

And that is something I’m sure Joseph Chamberlain would have approved of.

Birmingham, its citizens, its youth, its academics, its businesses and manufacturers stand ready to serve the nation in that crucial refounding of our industrial economy.

I can assure the Government that we will continue creating the growth, but it must be inclusive growth. We will invest in jobs and skills and we will build much needed homes.

We will ensure the region capitalises on the game-changer that is HS2.

And, through the Combined Authority, Midlands Engine and Midlands Connect, we will continue to be an economic driver for both the UK and Europe.

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