Archive for Regions

The BBC says the English don’t want devolution

The BBC is asking “Why don’t the English want more power” in response to the Scottish independence referendum in defiance of the evidence that actually they do.

In an article promoting the balkanisation of England into artificial regions, they make the ridiculous claim that 19% of English people support regional government and only 15% support an English Parliament. Toque has been keeping tabs on English Parliament opinion polls since 2002 and not once has support for an English Parliament dipped that low – in fact, in a 2007 ICM opinion poll for the Telegraph 15% supported English independence. Are we to believe that just because people have stopped asking the question in the last year and a half, the support for an English Parliament that has consistently been between more than 50% and almost 70% depending on the question asked has suddenly nosedived to just 15%? That’s rubbish and the BBC know it which is why they’ve left it unsourced.

You can gauge the support for an English Parliament quite easily by just asking any random sample of people – your family, friends or work colleagues – whether they think England should have its own government like Scotland does and unless your circle of friends are ill-informed hardcore British nationalists, most of them will say yes.

The case for an English Parliament does need to be made again because there hasn’t been an effective campaign highlighting the issues and the solution since the Campaign for an English Parliament collapsed into a mere parody of itself a few years ago but support for an English Parliament is still high. Support for regionalisation is still low but increasing in Yorkshire and Cornwall where Labour and Mebyon Kernow respectively are peddling their divisive, anti-English politics.

The message for Yorkshire and Cornwall – and elsewhere in England for that matter – is that an English Parliament and regional devolution aren’t mutually exclusive. There is no reason why Cornwall or Yorkshire shouldn’t have an assembly of its own if that’s what the majority of people there want but that power has to be devolved democratically from an English government, not given away by the British government to frustrate the wishes of the English people. A Cornish Assembly or Yorkshire Assembly could never compete with the Scottish Parliament or Welsh or Northern Irish Assemblies let alone a G20 country but England in its own right would be a G8 country, one of the largest economies in the world. The British government won’t devolve meaningful power to a region and that’s one of the reasons why the regional assemblies were rejected by the electorate but a devolved English Parliament with greater autonomy for county or regional government under that English government could deliver local decision making where it’s more efficient or a national approach isn’t appropriate without breaking up England.

The message for the BBC is that we do want our country back and you can quote all the dodgy, unsourced statistics you want and give as many column inches to the regionalists as you like but you won’t change the facts. The majority of people in England want an English Parliament.

Lord Adonis proposes regional government in England again

Unelected Labour peer, Lord Adonis, is spearheading yet another campaign for the destruction of England by regionalisation.

Lord Adonis

78% of people don’t want regional government you say? I honestly don’t give a shit.

The Labour Party always refer to the deceitful referendum on the common market held in 1975, which nobody currently under the age of 56 was able to take part in, as giving legitimacy to our continued membership of the EU despite the majority of the population being opposed to it.  Yet the referendum on regional government held in the north east of England by his party just 8 and a half years ago which resulted in a 78% “no” vote can apparently be safely ignored.

Adonis is producing a report for Nick Clegg – another Deputy Prime Minister that wants to destroy England – on the economy of north east of England and wants regional governments in England with control over major budgets.  His vision is for a return of the unelected regional assemblies and regional development agencies that we’ve only just got rid of.  It’s a kick in the teeth for democracy and if he’s successful, another major broken promise from the British government.

Local authorities can work together perfectly well without an unaccountable, undemocratic regional quango taking powers and money away from elected representatives.  Local government is a devolved matter, the British government has no moral or democratic mandate to ride roughshod over our democratic wishes and dismantle our system of local government to suit their own political ambitions.  Labour is already behind a campaign for a regional parliament for the north of England and this renewed interest in “devolution” to regional quangos is a regionalist trojan horse.  The fact that it’s an unelected peer trying to dismantle our country makes it even more unacceptable.

Regionalisation putting lives at risk again

Yesterday I got a call from Mrs Sane who was out on the road asking me to phone the police for her and tell them that some clever person had lobbed a traffic cone off an island onto the dual carriageway below and that just after the cone was a broken down and the two were causing a danger.

I phoned West Mercia police and asked to be put through to the control room at Telford and they duly put me through to the communications centre in Worcester.  I explained which dual carriageway it was (the A442) in Telford and which interchange had the problem.

“Would you say it was Shifnal to Telford or Shifnal to Bridgnorth?”  Completely different bit of road, not a dual carriageway and miles away from where I said it was.  I explained, yet again, where it was and that it was only a quarter of the way from the police station and that the local police will know exactly where I’m talking about.

“What’s nearby, so I can tell them?” Arrrrgh! I told him to trust me, just to put down what I had told him and the local police who, as I’d just mentioned, were only a quarter of a mile away, would know where I was talking about.

He finally accepted it and after a couple of minutes taking my home address and phone number and asking me if I wanted a reference number for the call I managed to get him off the phone.  All in all it took me a good 10 minutes to report a dangerous obstruction on the main arterial route through a busy town at rush hour and all because it’s no longer possible to speak to your local police station thanks to pointless regionalisation of public services.

West Midlands NO!: Coventry leaves City Region

Please try not to laugh because this is very serious.  Coventry has left the City Region of Birmingham, Coventry & the Black Country.

Since Telford & Wrekin parted company with the city region, it’s become more and more irrelevant as its focus narrows to providing the same Birmingham-centric services as the plethora of regional quangos infesting the euroregion.  In other words, a pointless duplication.

They had to change their name from Birmingham, Black Country & Coventry City Region after West Midlands NO! registered the name to the City Region of Birmingham, Coventry & the City Region.  They can’t call themselves the City Region of Birmingham, Coventry & the Black Country now that Coventry is no longer part of it so I wonder what they’ll call their quango now … has anyone though about Greater Birmingham?

Anyway, I’m sure the City Region’s unelected leader, Dr Simon Murphy, will appreciate any helpful suggestions you might have.  His email address is and his phone number is 0121 464 8168.  Let him have your suggestions, I’m sure he’ll appreciate them.

Last night’s protest

Last night I went to Smethwick with the Campaign for an English Parliament to protest against the Regional Grand Committee for the West Midlands.

Smethwick ProtestWe waved placards and held up a 12ft banner (with difficulty).  Lots of motorists were stopping in the road to read them and quite a few were honking horns in support and giving us the thumbs up.  The police didn’t seem too fussed at the cars stopping in the road – certainly less fussed than they were at the prospect of me having my mobile phone in the meeting or carrying some leaflets .

We heckled a few MPs as they drove in, mainly asking “can we have our country back please?”.  Khalid Mahmood, a Liebour MP in Birmingham, was chauffeur driven to the event like the good socialist that he is.

Shropshire Tory MPs, Mark Pritchard and Philip Dunne, were there even though the Tories were supposed to be boycotting the regional grand committees.  My MP, David Wright, was also there, sat in the back row on his own.  Seven opposition MPs turned up (most, if not all, Tories) which enabled the meeting to go ahead.  Without them the Liebour MPs wouldn’t have been quorate and the meeting would have fallen at the first hurdle like the East of England one did.

The questions were all pre-prepared, as were the answers.  I left halfway through shouting “Home rule for England” and “English Parliament please” which the usher didn’t approve of and promptly ushered me out of the room.  By the time I left they has done nothing more than read from scripts and have the occasional half-hearted jibe at the Tories.

The police wouldn’t allow me to take leaflets in the room but refused to tell me what law banned leaflets in a public meeting and they also made me turn off my phone but wouldn’t tell me what law banned mobile phones in a public meeting.  An MP walked through the metal detector and set it off.  Someone said “She’s an MP” so she was waved through.  I said “She might have a knife or a gun” but was told “She’s an MP”.  Bearing in mind the rampant lawlessness of MPs, they are statistically more likely to have been taking something into the room that they shouldn’t have been than I was so why weren’t the police doing their job of protecting the public?  I had my son with me and I was under strict instructions not to get arrested so I didn’t create too much of a fuss but I’ll be making a complaint to the police about officers making up the law as they go along.

Telford leaves city region with immediate effect

Champagne PopI would love to have been a fly on the wall in Simon Murphy’s office today when he got the call from Telford & Wrekin Council announcing that they were leaving his city region quango with immediate effect.

A week ago to this day I wrote an email to the leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, Andrew Eade, after writing about the city region’s plans for independence:



You either don’t know what the city region’s plans are or you do know and either don’t understand or don’t care.  Whichever it is, we should not be a part of this.

You have plenty of soothing words about how you don’t like it but you want to make sure we don’t lose out if we leave and how the city region doesn’t have any real powers.  But soothing words are worth nothing because the city region will have statutory status, it will have a legal personality, it will be allowed to apply for its own money, it will be allowed to enter into legal contracts and it will be able to make statutory policy that Telford will have to abide by.

This is nothing like the benign organisation that you and others have told us the city region is.  So what’s the truth Andrew?  You don’t understand the city region or you’ve been lying about it?


Councillor Eade told the Shropshire Star “I’ve always said we would stay in the City Region to try and maximise any benefits to our community”.  He hasn’t always said that – prior to the last local election he said that he would pull Telford out of the city region if the Tories won.  It’s taken close to two years and a lot of back-tracking for him to put his words into action.

Maybe the timing is a co-incidence, maybe the email I sent played a part in the decision to leave.  Either way, it’s a big victory and further proof that Greater Birmingham the City Region of Birmingham, Coventry & the Black Country really isn’t going to turn the West Midlands into the land of milk and honey.

Eurofederalist regionalist professor defends AWM

The Birmingham Post is claiming that a Tory plan to strip Regional Development Agencies of some of their powers will damage the economy of the West Midlands and centralise decision making.

This is absolute nonsense. Removing the regional quangocracy will empower local communities, increase democratic accountability in the decision-making process and could provide a vital boost to the local economy at a time when the global economy is taking a nosedive.

Not convinced?

Planning and transport are important areas of policy – the West Midlands has a population the size of Scotland (about 5 million) and the policy that determines when and where a road will be built, the buses and trains run and houses and factories are built is in the hands of an unelected quango with a Birmingham-centric view. Birmingham may be the largest city in the West Midlands but it’s not the only place to live or do business. There are about a million people living in Birmingham – that leaves another 4 million “West Midlanders” treated as an afterthought by the quango that’s supposed to represent their interests.

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland planning and transport has its own ministry with dedicated, qualified staff and elected ministers answerable to the electorate for the actions of their department. In the West Midlands we have unelected quangos unanswerable to the 4 million or so voters in the West Midlands.

It is wrong to assume that abolishing regional quangos will result in centralisation – there is no reason why the powers given to regional quangos shouldn’t be given back to the local authorities that they were taken from in the first place.

The Birmingham Post cites the collapse of MG Rover as an example of the value of the Regional Development Agency, Advantage West Midlands. “Whilst the MG Rover collapse was a very substantial shock to the West Midlands economy, the impact would have been much greater if the firm had collapsed in 2000? says David Bailey, the author of the Birmingham Post article. True, the collapse of MG Rover had a major impact on the West Midlands conurbation. It had an impact all over the country but the main impact was felt in Longbridge and the urban core of the West Midlands. The effect of the collapse of MG Rover was probably no worse in Worcester or Oswestry or Stafford than it was in Edinburgh or London or Cardiff.

There is no doubt that the collapse of MG Rover required a response on a grander scale than the local authority covering Longbridge but is the Birmingham Post really suggesting that it is beyond the wit of our elected local councils, who themselves manage multi-million pound budgets and provide hundreds of services under close scrutiny of the electorate, to work with each other to cope with the fallout from the collapse of MG Rover or any other “big issue”?

Whilst Advantage West Midlands was diverting all its energies into buying the Longbridge site and providing advice to businesses in Longbridge and the surrounding area, other parts of the West Midlands were losing out. Making certain polices and functions the sole responsibility of Advantage West Midlands is rather like putting all your eggs in one basket. Local authorities either aren’t allowed – or don’t have the resources – to provide the services Advantage West Midlands would have provided if they weren’t concentrating on MG Rover.

Just like a local solution to a problem isn’t always appropriate, a regional answer isn’t always right either – especially in a euroregion so economically and demographically diverse as to contain England’s second city and most rural county. This is why regional quangos like Advantage West Midlands need to be wound up and loose alliances formed on an issue by issue basis by local authorities and other interested parties. This way decision making remains in the hands of democratically accountable local councils but a “joined up” response to bigger issues is still perfectly workable when it’s needed. And more importantly, from the point of view of the local economy, businesses can be reassured that they won’t be subject to the whim of an unelected, undemocratic quango based in Birmingham.

Perhaps Professor David Bailey’s profile at the Birmingham University website might shed some light on his defence of the indefensible:


Industrial policy, economic development policy, policy towards transnational corporations and FDI, transition in Central and Eastern Europe, European integration and enlargement particularly with reference to EU Structural Funding and Regional Policy, structural change in the Japanese economy, economic freedom, the automotive industry.


David is Professor of Economic Policy and International Business and Head of the Industrial and Labour Economics (ILE) Group at the Birmingham Business School. He is also an attached member of staff of the University’s European Research Institute and co-chairs the University’s Europe Group.

Outside of Birmingham, David is Chair of the Regional Studies Association and is a member of the ESRC Virtual College. He is also an Academician of the Social Sciences, a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Of course, you’d have to be one of life’s cynics to think that his defence of Advantage West Midlands is influenced at all by the funding Advantage West Midlands provides to his department or his support for European integration and regionalisation.

Brown plans more regionalisation in England

According to the Times, Gordon Brown is planning to create a network of London-type mayors in the “English regions” to combat Englishness and promote the Britishness agenda he has become obsessed since being parachuted into the post of Prime Minister without a mandate.

England has always been considered expendable by the Labour Party, hence their willingness to embrace the EU’s regionalisation agenda.  Balkanising England suits Labour’s political agenda – England doesn’t vote Labour but enough of “the regions” probably would making it easier possible for Labour to win another election.

The North East euroregion rejected regionalisation in a referendum a couple of years ago but that decision has been ignored.  Only 22% of people in the North East wanted regional government and that was the euroregion that the British government said had most support for regional government.

The people of England don’t want regionalisation, the British government has no democratic or moral mandate to impose it on us.

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No, no, no

No Mandate Brown is appealing to “middle England” to support more devolution for Scotland and support the union.

The One Eyed Wonder of Wankistan says that the UK is “the world’s most successful multi-national state” but that the union isn’t “a contract of convenience that can be renegotiated”. Multi-national or multi-regional? Remember, as far as Liebour is concerned there is no such thing as England.

Also today, Jack Straw is going to set out a “statement of British values” that define British citizenship and press the non-existent case for a British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. There’s that word again – responsibilities. It’s no longer enough that you live here, work here, pay your taxes here or were even born here – you must have some good old British responsibilities for the British good.

The Demon Headmaster will be pressing for more power at local, regional and national level with more power for city governments. The national level is, of course, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (which isn’t even a nation). The regional level, obviously, is England which must never be given any form of acknowledgment as a national entity. City government (aka City Regions – the EU’s favoured form of “local” government) will only apply to England … sorry, the English Regions … because local government is devolved.

Apparently, today is the first day of Jack Straw’s consultation on Britishness, British values and a British Bill of Rights. Has anyone English been invited to take part in this “consultation”? If Jack Straw and Gordon Brown get away with what they’re trying to do right now then that’s the end of England forever.

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Shropshire Star: Claims City Region costs won’t be fair

The following was in tonight’s Shropshire Star:

Claims City Region costs won’t be fair

People in Telford will be paying on average substantially more towards the controversial West Midlands City Region than their counterparts in Birmingham, campaigners claimed today.

The operating cots of the city region will be divided into 10 equal shares – meaning the one million residents of Birmingham will pay the same £37,000 bill as Telford’s population of just 160,000.

Critics say this is an unfair burden for Telford and an illustration of how public money is being wasted on what it claims is an unelected quango.

Details of the costs have been obtained through a Freedom of Information request by West Midlands NO!, a campaign founded by Telford man Stuart Parr.

He said, “The city region will not be funded on a pro-rata basis as previously thought, but by simply dividing the costs into 10 equal shares.


“This means, for example, Birmingham’s one million residents will be collectively paying the same £37,026 contribution to the running costs of the city region as the 160,000 residents of Telford.

“This is hardly a fair distribution, especially when Birmingham City Council openly admits that Birmingham will benefit most from the city region.”

Mr Parr said Telford & Wrekin Council was also expecting to spend at least £77,000 monitoring and working with the city region and had set aside another £100,000 for costs associated with membership.

He said no cost/benefit analysis of city region membership had been conducted.

“This just confirms what we’ve been saying all along – the city region will be run by Birmingham for the benefit of Birmingham and the rest of us will be paying for it,” he said.

Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet recently voted formally to join the city region limited company, with Councillor Andrew Eade, council leader, being appointed a director.

Councillor Eade has repeatedly expressed scepticism about the city region and has come under fire from political opponents for joining up. He told full council last week he still believed it was “regionalisation by stealth” but felt he had to protect Telford’s interests.

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Press Release: City Region funding doesn’t add up


Information provided to the West Midlands NO! Campaign following a Freedom of Information Request has raised some serious questions about the City Region.

The City Region will not be funded on a pro-rata basis as previously thought, but by simply dividing the costs into 10 equal shares. This means, for example, Birmingham’s 1m residents will be collectively paying the same £37,062 contribution to the running costs of the City Region as the 160,000 residents of Telford or the 305,000 residents of Dudley.

This is hardly a fair distribution of the operating costs, especially when Birmingham City Council openly admits that Birmingham will benefit most from the City Region:

“The benefit to Birmingham will be that the city region partners all recognise the unique role of Birmingham at the heart of the city region. The partners have supported, for example, the investment in the redevelopment of New Street Station and the extension of the Midland Metro through the city centre. In the future, the partners can be expected to support investment in other projects that are vital to Birmingham’s continued development as the regional capital and as a successful international city. Birmingham can therefore expect to benefit significantly if powers and resources are devolved to the city region, because many of the projects that the city region gives priority to will be projects in Birmingham.”

Birmingham City Council claims that it will not spend more than the £37,062 contribution to the City Region’s budget but Telford & Wrekin Council is expecting to spend at least £77,000 monitoring and working with the City Region and has set aside another £100,000 for costs associated with membership. Is Telford wasting more taxpayers’ money than it’s already wasting by joining the City Region in the first place or is Birmingham hiding the true cost of the City Region?

The response also confirms that no cost/benefit analysis of City Region membership has been conducted meaning that hundreds of pounds of taxpayers money has been committed to funding a project when they don’t know how much it will cost or what, if any, they can expect to gain from it. If this decision had been made by a company, the shareholders would have been baying for blood by now!

Stuart Parr, founder of the West Midlands NO! Campaign, said: “This just confirms what we’ve been saying all along – the City Region will be run by Birmingham, for Birmingham and the rest of us will be paying for it”.

Andrew Bridgwater, West Midlands NO! Campaigner, said “If the City Region is going to turn a profit then surely it should be self-funding? Unless we’re being misled and the City Region is going to cost money for as long as it’s there, I see no reason why taxpayers’ money should change hands at all. In fact, if it is going to cost more money than it makes then all the more reason not to hand over any cash”.


Abolish Regional Quangos petition – government response

No Mandate Brown took some time out of his busy schedule to tell one of his PR guru’s to send a pointless and evasive answer to the West Midlands NO! petition calling on the British government to abolish regional quangos.

The Government believes there are issues which extend beyond the boundaries of even the largest local authority, and that a regional approach is necessary to analyse and address the causes of economic disparity; ensure planning and investment decisions are properly integrated; and co-ordinate sub-national government activity.

The Review of sub-national economic development and regeneration (SNR) published in July 2007 set out a number of reforms to ensure the regional tier is streamlined and effective. Regional Assemblies in their current form and function will not continue. Instead Regional Development Agencies (reporting to the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) will be responsible for developing and agreeing with local authorities in their regions integrated Regional Strategies promoting sustainable economic development. Parliamentary scrutiny of RDAs will be strengthened, alongside continuing Government oversight of RDA impact and value for money.

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Shropshire Star: Councillor defends his role in company

The following article is in tonight’s Shropshire Star … 

The leader of Telford & Wrekin Council today defended himself against claims of hypocrisy for taking an unpaid job with a controversial limited company in the West Midlands.

Councillor Andrew Eade said although he had reservations, he felt that it was important for Telford to play a part in an organisation which could have a huge impact on the borough.

The formal decision to join up with the Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City Region limited company is due to be made by Telford & Wrekin’s cabinet on Monday.

And the cabinet is recommended to appoint Councillor Eade as Telford’s representative and a director of the company.

He and his Conservative colleagues questioned the city region concept and suggested withdrawing from it during the run-up to the May elections when they seized power from Labour.

And although it is now official council policy to support the city region, they have since repeatedly expressed unease about the benefits and cost of joining up.


Supporters say it will help Telford win millions of pounds of investment boosting the economy and creating jobs.

Critics say the city region is an unelected quango and a waste of tapayers’ money.

The claim the real cost to Telford is about £200,000 for the next financial year, not the £37,000 claimed by the council, and fear that joining a company limited by guarantee will have potentially huge cost implications for the council.

Stuart Parr, Telford-based founder of the West Midlands NO! campaign, accused Councillor Eade of being hypocritical and of sending out mixed messages over the city region.

He asked: “If the Conservatives do decide to stand by their election pledge and pull out, will they have to pay the city region off?

“They are gambling with taxpayers’ money without a mandate from the electorate.”

Councillor Eade said today: “Yes, I have always had reservations about the city region but it is important to ensure the borough is represented at the highest level where decisions are made that directly affect us.

“We have decided to assess the benefits of membership first and then make a decision about continued membership in the future.”

I would like to take this opportunity to just clarify a couple of points.

The £200,000 figure comes from Telford & Wrekin’s own budget proposals for 2008-09 in which they have allocated £100,000 to administration costs and £100,000 for wages.

The city region’s limited company will be limited by guarantee but who will be providing the guarantee?  Council Tax payers of course.  And who will be paying the pensions of the city region’s employees?  Will it be the local authorities who make up the city region or will it be the city region limited company itself?  Either way the pension fund will be made up of taxpayers money.

And if Telford & Wrekin decides to leave after a year when the city region produces no tangible benefits will they have to pay to leave?  Will they have to “buy” themselves out of the company?  Will the taxpayers money they will be putting into pension funds and guarantees be refunded?

This doesn’t just apply to Telford & Wrekin, it applies to every local authority that is taking part in the city region.    The further you get from Birmingham – Coventry, Telford, Wolverhampton for example – the less interest the city region will have in you.  The city region was conceived as “Greater Birmingham” and like all the other unelected regional quangos in the West Midlands, Birmingham will come first.

It will be interesting to see whether any of the councillor in line for directorships of the city region will declare a prejudicial interest.  The Standards Board for England, which has the job of making sure that councillors in England behave themselves, says that a prejudicial interest is not just about a councillor standing to gain financially from something they vote on but also to gain increased stature amongst their colleagues.  Increased stature such as a company directorship, for example.

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Anti-Regional Quango petition

Please can I ask that anyone who hasn’t yet signed the anti-regional quango petition on the Prime Minister’s website does so as soon as possible?

It has 203 signatures so far and the deadline is the 19th of January.

Please sign the petition and email the link to anyone you know that might be interested in trying to stop the cancer of regional government.

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For immediate release

Advantage West Midlands (AWM), the unelected Regional Development Agency for the West Midlands, has announced its budget for the financial year 2007-08.  The taxpayer will give this unelected, underperforming quango £296m for the financial year.

AWM have just given jobs to two “local” entrepreneurs – Jas Bains and Angela Maxwell – who will be paid £8,371 of taxpayers’ money for working two days per month. [1] When the average full time weekly wage for an adult in the West Midlands is £393.60, where is the justice in an unelected quango paying £350 per day to someone who is supposed to be a successful entrepreneur?  Hopefully they will prove to have more loyalty to the people they have been appointed to represent than John Crabtree OBE, the Chairman of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and a member of the board of AWM, who was criticised on Tuesday for organising a seminar to help local businesses relocate abroad. [2]

Just a few days ago, the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) has release half-yearly figures for performance against six targets that it has set Advantage West Midlands.  If they continue to perform at the same level, they will exceed one maximum target, achieve one minimum target and miss four minimum targets – one of them by a massive 95%.  If they are performing this poorly, can they really be trusted with £296m of our money? [3]

The West Midlands NO! Campaign is committed to exposing the waste, incompetence and misuse of public money by these unelected, undemocratic, unwanted regional quangos and we won’t stop until every last one has been disbanded and power is firmly back in the hands of those we have elected to wield it.

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Email to Nick Clegg

I just sent the following email to Nick Clegg after reading that he has already dismissed a suggestion that we should have an English Parliament by saying that he will devolve power to “regions and communities” rather than the our country as most people want …

Dear Nick,

Could you please tell me what plans the Lib Dems have for the balkanisation of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

You have already stated your intention to break England up by devolving power to “regions and communities” without preserving the integrity of the nation with a national parliament so I would like to know what policy you have on breaking up the rest of the UK.

If you have no intention of breaking up Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the same was as you intend to eradicate the English nation then could you please explain why it is more important to keep Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland intact but perfectly acceptable to balkanise England against the wishes of the electorate?


Stuart Parr

By the way, Clegg is the new leader of the Illiberal Democrats if you didn’t already know.  The Illib Dum leadership “battle” was such a non-event I couldn’t be bothered to waste my energy writing about it. 

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Is there another West Midlands euroregion somewhere?

Birmingham Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Birmingham City Council were criticised yesterday for arranging a seminar for local businesses on how to move their business away from the West Midlands.

The President of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, ironically, has a seat on the board of Advantage West Midlands, the unelected regional development agency whose job it is to attract jobs and investment into the West Midlands.  No wonder they’re on track to miss four out of their six targets from the British government!

The seminar has been arranged by Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and is being supported by Birmingham City Council and will offer advice and assistance on offshoring all or part of their business.

Of course, if the board of Advantage West Midlands was elected rather than appointed from a pool of eurofederalist yes-men, we would be able to boot the President of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce out of office through the ballot box.  But it’s not elected and the electorate is only allowed to pay for Advantage West Midlands, not have a say in how it’s run.

If a local councillor started offering practical assistance to local businesses to move to another town they would most likely find themselves out of a job come the next election but in the unelected regional quangos, incompetence is rewarded.  Take Phil Davies as an example – he used to be the Leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, was sacked by his own party for incompetence and has gone on to secure several high-profile, taxpayer-funded jobs with regional quangos.  The reason?  He’s a member of the Labour Party, he’s a eurofederalist, he supports the balkanisation of England into euroregions and – most importantly – he does as he’s told.

Call me old fashioned, but I think that if you’ve got a job to do then you do it and if you don’t then you should be out of a job – doubly so if your job is in the public sector and funded by the taxpayer.  The President of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, John Crabtree OBE, has failed in his position as a director of Advantage West Midlands by allowing his Chamber to arrange a seminar to encourage local businesses to relocate abroad.  He should be removed from the board immediately and a free and fair election held so that the electorate can decide who is going to have a say in spending Advantage West Midlands’ £300m taxpayer-funded budget.

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Two out of six ain’t bad … it’s terrible!

Advantage West Midlands, the unelected Regional Devleopment Agency, has some targets set by what is now the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

The half-year results for April-September 2007 have now been published and on balance it’s looking … well, a bit poor really.

The first target is job creation – how many jobs have AWM created?  Their target is to create a minimum of 13,347 jobs and a maximum of 17,653.  So far they reckon they’ve managed 6,211 which is over 900 short if they continue at the current rate.

That’s 0 out of 1 so far, not a good start.

The second target is assisting people into employment – how many people have AWM helped to get a job?  Their target is to help a minimum of 4,306 people get a job and a maximum of 5,695.  They reckon they’ve helped 3,856 so far this year which is well above the maximum target (is it a good thing to exceed a maximum target?).

That’s 1 out of 2 (assuming it’s ok to exceed a maximum target), getting better.

The third target is business creation – how many businesses have AWM helped to create that have shown growth and are stil in business 12 months on?  Presumably this is last years start-ups because these are half year figures, or perhaps it’s an estimate … who knows?  It’s not really relevant anyway because their minimum target is 1,361, their maximum target is 1,799 and they’ve managed 70 (no, I didn’t miss a zero off the end).

1 out of 3 … not good.

Target number four is business support – how many businesses did AWM help to improve their performance?  They have a minimum target of 10,333 and a maximum target of 13,667.  They have achieved 3,626 so far which leaves them almost 3,100 short of their minimum target at the current rate.

Oh dear, only 1 out of 4 so far.

Their fifth target is split into two – how much public and private infrastructure investment has been used and how much brownfield land has been redeveloped.  They have minimum and maximum targets of £172m & £228m for the former and 129 & 171 hectares for the latter.  They have so far levered £52m of investment which is £68m short of their minimum target if they continue at the current rate and they have redeveloped 3 hectares of brownfield land which is 123 hectares (or over 95%) short of their minimum target if they continue at the current rate.

A rather disappointing 1 out of 5 targets hit.

Target number six is the number of people that AWM helped to develop skills.  They have a minimum target of 18,083 and a maximum of 23,917.  They have managed 9,313 so far which is 543 over their minimum target if they continue at the current rate.

So that’s 2 out of 6 targets they’ve been set by the British government that they’re on target to hit.  At the current rate they will scrape through one minimum target and exceed one maximum target which, as previously mentioned, we can only assume is a good thing.

Remember, this is the Regional Development Agency that has a taxpayer-funded annual budget of £300m but which, it claims, controls over £1bn of public money in the West Midlands.  Also remember that this is the Regional Development Agency that is to take over most of the West Midlands Regional Assembly’s powers, responsibilites and budget by 2010 when it is finally abolished.

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Press Release: Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City Region

The following press release has been sent out today:

Four anti-regionalisation campaigners have dealt a blow to regionalists in the area, undermining local authority plans to register the Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City Region as a limited company by registering the company themselves.

Stuart Parr and Andrew Bridgwater of the West Midlands NO! Campaign have joined with John Franklyn of Telford Council Watch and veteran campaigner, David Barnett, to set up the company after hearing of plans to turn the city region into a limited company.

The group plan to use the company to support grass-roots democracy in the West Midlands.

Stuart Parr, founder of the West Midlands NO! Campaign said “Our leaders agreed to create this city region in secret and are refusing to consult the electorate. In return we have registered Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City Region without consulting them”.

Andrew Bridgwater, a West Midlands NO! campaigner, said “The city region isn’t interested in people like you and me, their main concern is big business and what they want for the region. The city region is an affront to democracy”.

John Franklyn, co-founder of Telford Council Watch and Telford First, said “We’re playing them at their own game. At the ‘consultation’ on the Region Spatial Strategy and Regional Economic Strategy, Telford wasn’t even on the map and it’s not even part of the name of the city region”.

Dave Barnett said “Only the North East was asked if they wanted regional government and 78% of them said no. We, in the West Midlands, have never been asked”.

Anyone wishing to become involved with Birmingham, Coventry and Black Country City Region should contact either Telford Council Watch or West Midlands NO! on 08703004371 or 07973296118.

West Midlands NO! Campaign:
Telford Council Watch:

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CfER rises from the ashes

The Campaign for English Regions (CfER) has apparently risen from the ashes with an article in today’s Guardian by their Chairman, Phil Davies, calling for more regional government.

The CfER is headed up by Phil Davies, former Leader of Telford & Wrekin Council.  Davies was sacked a few years ago following a vote of no confidence and was parachuted into a job with a couple of Labourite regional quangos – Transport West Midlands and the West Midlands Regional Assembly – where he wouldn’t be at the mercy of voters or an elected council.

Davies campaigned with CfER for regional government in the West Midlands a few years ago when John Prescott promised referenda in every euroregion in England and then cancelled them because the North East gave the wrong answer.  He helped set up the West Midlands Constitutional Convention which wasn’t the talking shop to discuss ideas or gauge public opinion that you would expect from a Constitutional Convention but had only one stated objective – to come with ideas on how to introduce regional government in the West Midlands.

The Constitutional Convention died a death – their website hasn’t been updated for nearly four years.  The CfER website is now owned by a search engine company and the West Midlands Regional Assembly is being disbanded in 2010.  Not the kind of record that looks good on a CV!

When the CfER was first campaigning for regional government it was calling for regional government with the same powers and the Scottish Parliament.  Now they’re calling for the same powers as the London Assembly – a glorified town council.  Davies says that he wants a return to the time when English cities and counties had the same power as the Scottish Parliament like in the second half of the 20th Century – the Scottish Parliament was only created in 1997 and hadn’t existed for night on 300 years prior to that.  He cites the regionalisation found on the continent as an example of how great things would be if we were to carry out the EU’s directives on elected regional government but fails to mention that fact that no member state has a mixture of national and regional governments in place at the same time.  Can you imagine a single government for Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg) with a national government for Belgium, a national government for Luxembourg and the Netherlands broken up into regions?  Of course not, it wouldn’t be fair but that is what is being proposed for England.

I don’t know which is sadder – that abject failures like Phil Davies still manage to get themselves presented by the media as a credible source of innovation or that people like him really believe that if they write to enough newspapers promoting their regionalist agenda they’ll somehow convince the people of England that what they really want is for their country to be broken up and to be run by toothless regional governments answerable to the EU Committee of Regions.

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