Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore will pledge to forge closer links between the Greater Birmingham and Black Country LEPs in his annual leader’s policy statement issued today.
The Labour council leader will tell council colleagues that the regional economy will only be successful if the two Local Economic Partnerships work as one - particularly on transport and infrastructure.
Almost since the council and business led groups were first proposed there has been criticism that the city region would be better served by a single organisation rather than separate Black Country and Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEPs.
But there has also been a fierce resistence from the Black Country authorities amid fears they would see their economic interests subsumed by an over bearing Birmingham neighbour.
In the Birmingham Post in May he announced his urban mobility plan - which when finalised later this year will set out the city’s transport plans for the next decade.
But to make this work he will need the support of the neighbouring authorities, including the Black Country boroughs.
In his statement Sir Albert will say: “Many of our aims can only be achieved by working at a city-regional level - focused on the real economic geography of Greater Birmingham.
“So we are determined to build a strong city regional partnership of local authorities and to work closely with the business community and other partners to drive this agenda.”
Explaining his statement he said: “I chose to mention the city region agenda and am not saying LEP because I think there needs to be changes to the LEP structure. I talk about the economic geography of the region not the LEP area.”
He said that in terms of the transport infrastructure and the travel to work area Birmingham’s economy is closely tied to the Black Country.
“We need to have the right economic footprint.”
He said that the local transport boards have already agreed in principle to bring the two areas together and he would be lobbying for further close ties.
And added that he has urged Labour’s shadow cabinet, should they win the 2015 election, not to abolish LEPs but to reform them, to avoid a repeat of the situation in 2010 when there was a two year gap between the abolition of the Regional Development Agencies and the launch of LEPs.
In his leader’s statement Sir Albert will focus on three key areas - protecting the vulnerable, developing democracy and creating a prosperous city.
A key element is his aim of closing the gap of inequality and deprivation in the city with initiatives including cut price travel for young people, working with credit unions on financial inclusion, develop action zones to tackle child poverty and host a national conference on Government cuts and welfare reform.
There are pledges on developing the local economy, including the publication of a ten year transport plan, the further development of economic zones and a city centre retail strategy.
And a pledge to build 1,200 council owned houses over the next year, as well as finalise the housing strategy for the next 20 years in the Autumn.
The council will build 1,800 new primary school, 400 special school and 750 secondary school places
On the cultural side he wants Birmingham to become Britain’s “festivals capital” and a big promotional push to highlight Birmingham’s “distinctive, ambitious and high quality” offerings.
The council will also work on the roll out of 20mph limit for residential roads to improve safety.
Sir Albert said: “I have spent much of the last year talking about the financial plight we are in and saying that this is the end of local government as we know it.
“Those jaws of doom have now widened following Chancellor George Osborne’s spending review. We are redefining the City Council through our service reviews.”
• The Leader’s statement was being broadcast from 2pm today on the council’s webcast service http://www.birmingham.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcasts