The long-running rivalry between Birmingham and the Black Country has come to an end, civic leaders declared at the second Birmingham Day event in the House of Commons .

Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore said a new era of co-operation had begun, as he spoke alongside representatives of Local Enterprise Partnerships, the official economic development bodies, from both Birmingham and the Black Country.

They were in the House of Commons for a showcase of Birmingham manufacturing, held in a crowded Commons committee room.

The aim was to inform Westminster decision-makers about Birmingham’s contribution to the nation – and to argue that the city and the region could do even more with the right backing.

Last year, the first Birmingham Day highlighted the city’s successes in diverse fields such as medicine, education and the economy.

This time, the focus was firmly on manufacturing and the work of smaller and medium-sized firms, using the slogan “we still make things”.

Labour MP Gisela Stuart (Edgbaston), Conservative Andrew Mitchell (Sutton Coldfield) and Liberal Democrat John Hemming (Yardley) were the hosts, and visitors included Cities Minister Greg Clark and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

Councillor Paul Tilsley, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Birmingham City Council, and Mike Whitby, leader of the Conservative group and a member of the House of Lords, also took part.

Stewart Towe, Chair of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership and Managing Director of rolled steel manufacturer the Hadley Group, told the gathering that the “competitive element” in the relationship between Birmingham and the Black Country had gone.

He said: “There really is a new spirit of co-operation.

“It is about time that this joint effort is put fully to the fore, because we are together far stronger than we are apart, and we are not working together.

Sir Albert said: “There is a growing consensus that economic leadership needs to take place at a city region level.”

The region still faced the challenge of making existing partnerships stronger, he said.

And he said investment in high speed rail would provide a boost not only to Birmingham but to the wider region.

Andy Street, chair of the Greater Birmingham Local Enterprise Partnership, told the gathering: “We now have an emerging economic success story but the good people of the Westminster village haven’t all got the joke yet and it’s important we come and shout the message to them.”

Mr Street, who is also managing director of John Lewis, highlighted Birmingham’s Strategic Economic Plan, a bid for a share of a £2-billion-a-year Government fund called the Local Growth Fund.

He said: “It is a Strategic Economic Plan to change Birmingham and a Strategic Economic Plan to change Britain.

“We can re-emerge as the nation’s second economy and, most importantly, the most significant economy outside London.”

Manufacturers exhibiting at the event included medal and uniform accessory manufacturer Firmin and Sons, cycle accessories brand Brooks England and engine manufacturers Cubewano, and many others.

Visitors could examine a space helmet as seen in the film Prometheus, exhibited by the firm that produced the props used in the movie, CMA Moldform.

Other exhibitors included adi Group, multidisciplinary service providers to the engineering sector .

Group Sales and Marketing Director James Sopwith said the firm employed 420 people – but struggled to find enough engineers. Britain needed to train more apprentices, he said.

 

Photos of Birmingham Day by Jas Sansi