Birmingham should head a West Midlands city-region under the leadership of a powerful directly-elected mayor, an influential think tank said.
The Greater Birmingham Authority would run economic development, regeneration, transport and skills, and be able to raise a five per cent levy on business rates to fund major projects.
A report by the Centre for Cities says that only by devolving more power from central to local government will Birmingham and the West Midlands be able to deliver key infrastructure schemes such as New Street Station and the Midland Metro.
The document identifies a 13-district Birmingham city-region, including Birmingham, Solihull, Sandwell, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Coventry, Bromsgrove, Redditch, North Warwickshire, Tamworth, Lichfield and Cannock Chase. Its total population is about three million.
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Good Hope Hospital could close wards and operating theatres after revealing it is heading for a #47.5 million budget deficit.
It is also planning to place itself under the control of the NHS trust responsible for Heartlands Hospital, effectively merging the two.
But in a hard-hitting report to be considered by health managers next week, the hospital admitted even this would not be enough to solve the financial crisis and appealed to the Department of Health to bail it out.
The hospital is currently spending #1 million more than it receives every month.
An exorcist has carried out a ritual on a Sandwell school where seven members of staff have been struck down by a mystery illness.
The exorcist came forward after being alerted to sickness problems affecting staff at The Meadows Special School in Oldbury.
Sandwell Council education spokesman Coun Ian Jones revealed the exorcist had tried to clear the school of any malevolent presence.
He said: "We are keeping an open mind on the situation and any theory put forward will be carefully considered. What has happened at The Meadows is baffling and worrying."
A firefighter who lost a leg in a motorcycle crash has returned to active duty with a false limb.
Simon Hawkins, aged 31, will carry on driving, climbing ladders, fighting fires and saving people from blazes after returning to work with Hereford and Worcester Fire Service.
Mr Hawkins was forced to leave the service in July 2004 after an accident. Doctors saved his life but were forced to amputate his lower left leg.
Eighteen months after his crash, Mr Hawkins has been allowed back to work on full operational duties with a prosthetic leg - the first firefighter in the UK and Europe to do so.
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