Bore: ‘Birmingham and Black Country LEPs should unite’

MOST businesses wanted Birmingham and the Black Country to have a unified Local Enterprise Partnership, the opposition leader of Birmingham City Council has claimed.
Sir Albert Bore, whose Labour Group is widely expected to take control of the council in next week’s local elections, said local rivalries amongst political leaders had led to the “nonsense” of the current split between the Black Country LEP and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP.
“Most business leaders know that it only makes sense to have a LEP covering a single economic area,” Sir Albert told a debate on elected mayors organised by Birmingham Forward.
Sir Albert, who led the council between 1999 and 2004, recently stepped down from the race to become Labour’s candidate for mayor if Birmingham chooses to adopt the system in a referendum next Thursday.
He said: “The situation of the LEP shows that we need the kind of strong leadership a mayor can bring. We need a significant figures with the power and mandate to work closely with neighbouring authorities and rebuild relationships with Birmingham’s neighbours.”
A spokesman for the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP said: “While the Black Country and Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP areas are separate entities with their own priorities, there are some shared agendas which require cross-LEP working.
“An example of this  is the  £125m Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative, which was successfully bid for in partnership with Liverpool, Coventry and Warwickshire and the Black Country LEPs.”
Birmingham Forward came out in support of the principle of an elected mayor for the city earlier this year.
The meeting at the Council House was also addressed by potential Labour candidate Sion Simon, and opponent to the move Roger Godsiff MP.