What should be Westminster’s vow to Birmingham?

Hodge Hill MP Liam Byrne asks his constituents and fellow citizens.

I’ve spent this week in Glasgow campaigning to keep our country together. I passionately believe that the challenges we have in Hodge Hill are easier to solve if we remain together as one United Kingdom. We had a stake in our Scottish neighbours voting to stay together.

All party leaders have now vowed to devolve more power to Scotland. Today Ed Miliband has gone a step further and proposed a UK Constitutional Convention to debate more powers to cities like ours in Birmingham.

So I’m now asking what do you think are the powers that need handing over to Birmingham?

Today I’ve asked Birmingham’s leaders to organise a Birmingham Constitutional Convention. We should debate a simple question: what should be Westminster’s vow to Birmingham?

In Victorian times, Birmingham was known as “the best governed city in the world”; above all we were known for thinking radically. One the most famous MPs to represent the city, the great John Bright once said, “Birmingham is radical as the sea is salt”.

Today I say, let’s be the heirs to that tradition. Let’s move quickly to organise a constitutional convention of our own. I think there are five key powers we need – these are the key powers we need to get our city back to work:

1. Powers, like those in London, to raise revenue from local businesses to reinvest in the city – or to finance tax breaks for innovative or small businesses.

2. Power to help lead a regional Transport Commission, with integrated powers like TfL, and to unlock Birmingham Airport’s potential to become Britain’s fourth hub airport.

3. Power to lead school improvement, to boost the local skills base and improve ‘coasting schools’.

4. Power over Skills Funding Agency budgets, to help boost apprenticeships and gear skills spending to the needs of local employers.

5. Power over housing budgets, including powers to keep savings from Housing Benefit delivered by getting people back to work, to allow the city to help shift money into building homes – providing much needed construction employment.

Next week, I’ll publish a longer draft plan – including thoughts on culture and the arts – to help get the debate in gear. Let me know what you think – and as this debate unfolds – please get involved!

5 thoughts on “What should be Westminster’s vow to Birmingham?

  1. Mr Byrne is under the standard delusion that the airline industry will be going up and up. When in reality it is going to crash very heavily within a few years due to intractably-increasing fuel costs and intractably reducing disposable incomes. And the airline industry is obscenely incompatible with sustainability and a civilised environment anyway so just as well.

    Apart from that these proposals seem sensible enough.

  2. I am in favour of greater devolution of powers to regions or cities, including Birmingham. I have moved to Birmingham recently as I am getting married. I don´t know much about Birmingham politics yet though I have seen the bad news in the national media about the children’s services department and problems of radical Islamic influence in some schools.

    I´d like to know how well Birmingham is run overall at the moment, and who feels qualified to use the extra powers that Mr Byrne is proposing the city should have. How can I find this out?

    Basically, the issue of regional powers has shot up the political agenda within days and I want to know if greater powers for Birmingham could be delivered properly.

    • Michael, it’s hard to recommend one specific place that you can go to find answers to your quesions. Perhaps best to read a wide selection of material in websites such as this one, Our Birmingham, The Chamberlain Files, Localise West Midlands and the Birmingham Post. Sadly, the BBC’s local output on both radio and televison is fairly poor as regard local politics. Collectively, the places mentioned above won’t give you definitive answers, but they are a useful starting point.

      • Thanks for your reply Steve. I’ll start having a look at the material you suggested. If you don’t mind me asking, what’s your view on the issue? Would the informed Brummie be excited about the council being given more powers? Or would they be very worried? Or perhaps somewhere in between? Kind regards, Michael

Comments are closed.