6 hours ago
B I R M I N G H A M [2/3]
“Local political power is on the move in Birmingham. The creation of the West Midlands Combined Authority has seen the region elect its first mayor – and the base for the new political leader in town is in stark contrast to the Council House.
About a mile away, over the ring road, across the canal and tucked away down a run-down side street called Summer Lane you come across the headquarters of the combined authority, seat of power for the mayor. It’s a bland concrete cube, no character, no statement, no presence, no tradition - more a maintenance nightmare than a municipal dream.
The building was inherited from the former West Midlands Transport Authority, from which (in legal terms) the combined authority was born. Despite a facelift it lacks gravitas and status and, well, everything really. But does it matter?
The Council House may be more visible, but the mayor has nearly 19,000 followers on Twitter (Birmingham’s leader has just 6,000) and a high public profile with endless photo-opps showing him out and about across the region, often in a hard hat and hi-vis jacket, telling a strong story of the Midlands on the move. So, does he really need a grand office to make a point about his authority?” • Chris West is a former council finance director, now an independent consultant.
Town Hall is due for publication in November 2018, stay tuned.
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