I was a busy bee this afternoon trying to find out what work it is that the city region is going to be doing as nobody seems to have been able (or willing) to tell me before. First stop Telford & Wrekin Council.
Called T&W Council and the switchboard operator put me through to a bewildered Leisure Services person who then referred me to the PR office. The lady at the PR office told me that there are only two people at T&W Council that know enough about the city region to talk to me. I asked her why it was that not even council employees knew anything about this and why, if it is such a good thing, it is all being kept secret. She took offence at this and haughtily gave me her opinion that it wasn't a secret at all. I told her that I had been refused a copy of the proposal for the city region more than once, one occasion being a Freedom of Information Act request. She took my name and number and left a message for the man in the know to ring me because he is conveniently unavailable today.
Next on my list was the Standards Board for England to ask them if the Leader of the Council, Keith Austin, had a predetermined opinion and/or prejudicial interest when he recommended the cabinet vote in favour of the city region when he gets a job with them and had been quoted more than once in the Shropshire Star beforehand saying what a wonderful idea it is. They said there may be a case and invited me to submit a complaint.
The thought of this New Labour toad being hauled in front of the Standards Board kept me amused for all of 5 minutes so I decided to phone Birmingham City Council. I spoke to a North British gentleman called Sandy who I spoke to once a few months ago. He remembered who I was. We had a heated discussion in which he failed to explain why the councils in the West Midlands euroregion can't just co-operate without setting up yet another unelected regional government at the taxpayers expense, where and how the extra investment and benefits are coming from and why there is not going to be any referendum on the city region when even Telford's europhile Labour MP said that the people of Telford don't want regional government. He also explained that the reason people in the North East euroregion rejected their regional assembly in a referendum was because they were unelected, couldn't pass legislation and didn't have much power whereas the city region ... oh, there's no difference. He said that I should trust in the council leaders' decisions as they were doing what is best for the region. I suggested that they approved of it because it's Labour Party policy and it's a Labour council at which point he shouted that I couldn't say that to which I replied "I can and I just did" and that the Chief Exec of T&W Council is a card carrying member of the Labour Party. He got a bit wound up at this point and we weren't getting anywhere so I made one final stab and getting him to contradict himself by asking him to confirm that we won't be getting a say in the city region and that the consultation will be held once the decisions have all been made. He said I couldn't twist his words like that but confirmed that there wouldn't be a referendum so ... we aren't going to have a say?