Chamber of Commerce chief Jerry Blackett declared himself “Grumpy of Birmingham” after the government snubbed proposals for a powerful West Midlands city region.
Business and community leaders were left disappointed after missing out on the status, which allows councils to keep business rates for up to 25 years, when the decision went in favour of Manchester and Leeds.
Speaking on a post-Budget internet broadcast on www.birminghampost.net, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce chief executive Mr Blackett said he was deeply disappointed with the decision, and vowed to continue the fight to set up a city region in the West Midlands.
He said the region has suffered for thinking more progressively than counterparts in Whitehall, and has called an urgent meeting with West Midlands MPs Liam Byrne and Ian Austin.
Mr Blackett said: “There is no reason why we can’t do this in Birmingham at the moment.
“We have said to the Treasury please allow us to keep this money for 20 or 30 years and there after you can have the business rates. It would not cost them a penny.
“This can’t be damaging to the Treasury’s forecasts because none of this is in their forecasts. They haven’t taken it in the first place.
“The answer we have been given from Government is ‘you are running too fast ahead of us’. Well, in the face of the recession how slow do you want us to run?
“This isn’t the time for typical Whitehall caution and obfuscation.”
Local Government Secretary Hazel Blears approved proposals for a city region in Manchester and Leeds earlier this week.
She has agreed to continue to look at plans for a similar board across Birmingham, Coventry and the Black Country allowing accelerated development zones, which allow local planners to calculate future business rates for new developments.
However, Mr Blackett said local business leaders have been told the West Midlands is not united enough to proceed as a city region, which he refutes.
He said: “I spoke to Liam Byrne and Ian Austin yesterday and I am going to be writing to both of them today to call an urgent meeting following the disappointing news yesterday.
“Both say it is possible and I want to sit down with them about it.
“The Government has allowed Manchester and Leeds to do this and we have asked them why on earth wouldn’t they allow us, and we didn’t get a satisfactory answer.”