Wednesday, November 04, 2009

To lose one senior officer at regeneration is an accident, to lose two is Conservatism in action

After living in Birmingham for 19 years and working at the city council for six, I have taken the opportunity to work at the London Borough of Newham where the pace and scale of regeneration is very significant and where transport is the key to regeneration.
As opposed to Birmingham, where the pace of regeneration is slightly below that of a glacier. Clive Dutton has headhunted his former deputy, the respected Philip Singleton, to join him at Newham - an "incredibly ambitious borough," which contrasts with Birmingham's big words, but total lack of action.

Whitless has taken personal command of the hunt to replace Clive Dutton and predictably, this has meant that nothing has happened. Now he's got to replace the director and his deputy, while Steven Hughes runs around trying to manage a department and the rest of the city.

Right now, more than ever, we need the best people to head up departments like regeneration, laying down how and where Birmingham will develop over the next decade or two when the upturn comes. Currently, it looks as though the Tories and their Liberal sidekicks are fresh out of ideas and they are haemorrhaging the people paid to think big. We've got a bunch of small town bunglers flailing around, totally out of their depth at this level. Yesterday's council meeting was an example of their self-satisfaction and general smugness, as senior Labour councillors were dismissed and told to stop complaining until they understood what was really going on, rather than having the cheek to actually expect proper answers to impudent questions to their betters.

And don't think that these thoughts are confined to the Labour team in Birmingham. According to Paul Dale, senior Conservatives are dissatisfied with the performance of what purports to be the second city
Ken Taylor, the leader of Coventry City Council, hit out at “small town politics” endemic in local authorities which he said was knocking the confidence of the business sector in the ability of local government to create wealth and tackle systemic unemployment and deprivation. Speaking as the chairman of the leaders’ board, representing all 33 West Midlands councils, Coun Taylor said: “One of the problems we have is that Birmingham is not leading the way as a locator city for the West Midlands. It needs to be doing more. “The West Midlands leaders’ board is developing as a political force but it cannot succeed without the drive of Birmingham, which needs to step up its game.”
And that's one of Whitless' party colleagues.

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