Dear Editor, Notwithstanding what awaits this region following the Coalition Government’s Spending Review, the vast majority of the business community would welcome the introduction of an elected Mayor of Birmingham.
Clearly any candidate for this powerful post would need as a prerequisite the very highest credentials, backed by an appropriate peer group and having a wealth of experience in dealing with both public and private sectors.
The primary function would be to raise the profile in every sense, not only of Birmingham, which surely must be recognised as the regional centre, but also of Greater Birmingham which includes the Black Country, Solihull, Coventry and the shires which collectively – and presently – form the West Midlands.
Internecine jealousies between our sub-regional local authorities will come into play. From my experience, in representing the business community over the last three years on the City Region board, that much is a given.
But it’s time to drop the geographical term West Midlands, as I’m sure any new Local Enterprise Partnership would do. Personally, however, I have grave doubts as to the likely effectiveness of any LEP, and anyway, does not this new acronym fly in the face of the concept of an all-powerful elected Mayor representing the common interests of this region?
The Black Country thinks only of itself. It continually fails to ask itself the basic question: “What is in the best interest of the region as a whole?”
It fails to realise that no-one outside of the West Midlands, and least of all in Europe, has the faintest idea where the Black Country is on the map – and what’s more doesn’t care.
What matters is that decision takers from outside our region – but particularly abroad – know exactly where Birmingham is and hears that it welcomes inward investment with open arms – not just in Birmingham but in Greater Birmingham. An extended runway at Birmingham Airport would be a good start.
Former business representative,
City Region board