Written evidence from Birmingham City
BIRMINGHAM CITY UNIVERSITY'S POSITION ON
The 29 June, 2010 letter from BIS signed by
Vince Cable and Eric Pickles invites local authority leaders and
business leaders to work with Government to help strengthen local
economies. This letter sets out Birmingham City University's views
on the challenges for a local economic partnership (LEP) encompassing
1. Geography. It is our firm belief that Birmingham
should be in a LEP defined in terms of the functional economic
geography of greater Birmingham and not existing local government
or ad hoc regional area boundaries (eg west midlands) which are
a legacy in terms of economic performance. This will ensure that
economic issues can be addressed in a clear and coherent way to
the good of local businesses and citizens.
2. Economy. A greater Birmingham LEP should concentrate
primarily on matters of economic importance to the region, including
jobs, skills, inward investment, business start-ups and transport.
We also favour investment in the advanced manufacturing, creative
and cultural industries, digital, design, and low carbon sectors.
Without this focus it will be difficult to attract the interest
of business leaders and to lead the region out of recession.
3. Transition from AWM. Much of the work of AWM
provided great value to the region and it is important that there
is a lasting legacy from the investment. A Birmingham LEP must
provide a smooth transition for the economic elements and assets
of AWM. In particular, it is important that there is a clear plan
for how to handle access to European investment opportunities.
4. Central role for universities. Universities
are major economic engines for Birmingham. Birmingham City together
with Birmingham and Aston universities employ around 10,000 staff,
bring around 70,000 students annually into Birmingham (around
10,000 of which are from overseas) and have a joint turnover of
around £700 million. The total economic footprint of the
Birmingham universities probably exceeds £1 billion. A key
goal for the LEP should be to position Birmingham as a university
city and to enjoy the direct and indirect economic (and other)
benefits that such a focus will bring.
5. Partnership. One of the long term issues that
has held Birmingham back is the lack of alignment of key stakeholder
groups. It is time for fresh thinking and a new approach; everyone
needs to work together towards a common goal of making Birmingham
the most successful LEP in the country. Universities can also
play an important independent, honest broker role here and can
act as a counterweight to public and private interests.
We are personally committed to trying to make
a Birmingham LEP a success and stand ready to work with others
to develop both a successful proposal and an outstanding partnership
for the good of the city-region.
2 September 2010