£6.9m funding for Walsall development
More than 100 new jobs will be created when a derelict area of Walsall town centre is brought back into commercial use with a £6.9 million investment by the WMCA.
Work on the plot in Littleton Street West will begin in January 2018 by Worcestershire developers Cordwell Property Group after funding was made available through the authority’s Collective Investment Fund (CIF). Covering 35,000 square feet, the site will house a 60-bed Travelodge hotel, a drive-through McDonald’s and three retail units, creating up to 130 new full and part-time jobs.
The CIF is a £70 million commercial development fund set up by the WMCA to stimulate jobs, opportunity and growth. It aims to unlock a further £1 billion in private sector investment in the next decade. It is managed by Finance Birmingham and provides short-term loans to private sector developers to enable them to get schemes off the ground.
Pictured (l-r): Gerald Gannaway (Finance Birmingham), Cllr Izzi Seccombe (WMCA) and Tom Wilcox (Cordwell Property Group) at the development site.
WMCA spearheads week of digital tech
This week saw the West Midlands Urban Tech Summit take place at Birmingham's Custard Factory. Led by the WMCA and Mayor, Andy Street, the event was opened by Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid MP. A number of key figures from government, local authorities and the digital tech industry took part in panel discussions around the challenges of the fast-growing digital age.
It also saw the launch of the Mayor’s Urban Challenge, which invites start-ups to submit ideas to tackle four areas where tech can play a crucial role: wellbeing; homelessness; youth unemployment and digital citizenship.
There is a £10,000 prize for the winner, plus a three-month paid pilot with the WMCA and support from public sector tech consultants Public. Enter the Urban Challenge at https://urbanchallenge.io/
The Mayor also spoke this week at the Innovate UK conference at the NEC, which saw creators, investors and entrepreneurs discuss themes including health, energy, cities and automation. He spoke about digital as the glue that binds our economy and how the region can lead the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ that technology will bring. In addition, Andy is attending the prestigious Web Summit in Lisbon this week.
Mayors unite to call for more devolution
Andy Street joined Britain’s six other regional and city-wide mayors to issue a united call for the Government to increase the pace and scale of devolution.
At the inaugural meeting in London - the first of a series of planned summits - the mayors felt that greater devolution would boost economic growth across the UK and improve public services.
They want to see further devolved control over public services including skills, training and apprenticeship services and greater influence over programmes designed to help people get back to work. The mayors also called for a significant increase in financial devolution, with regions given greater control over existing taxes and the revenues they create, rather than relying on Government grants.
Cities and metropolitan regions are the main engines of economic growth and job creation in the UK. The seven areas under direct control of the mayors account for nearly 39% of all GVA, up from 35% in 1997.
Black Country shines in Westminster
The manufacturing excellence and global reputation of the Black Country was showcased at a special event in Westminster last Wednesday (November 1).
The exhibition, led by the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, was held at Portcullis House and well attended by senior cross-party politicians, local MPs and leading business figures.
The region is among the country's most important centres for high-quality manufacturing, especially within the aerospace and automotive industries, and around 30 Black Country firms were represented at the exhibition.
Sign up for first ever Faith Conference
People of all faiths from across the West Midlands are being urged to attend a conference later this month aimed at strengthening community cohesion. 'The Mayor and Faith Conference' will be held on Monday 27 November, 4-9pm, at the Edward Cadbury Centre at the University of Birmingham.
It will focus on the many opportunities there are to work together and address specific issues in the region, including:
- Unlocking the potential of young people by building new leadership networks
- Reducing homelessness and social need
- Keeping communities safer by tackling hate crime and discrimination
- Working together so that the economy functions better for the whole community
A faith steering group was established shortly after the Mayor took office, co-chaired by Francis Davis, Professor of Communities and Public Policy at the University of Birmingham and Amrick Singh Ubhi, chair of the Council of Sikh Gurdwaras in Birmingham.
For more details of the event and to register, please go to: https://www.wmca.org.uk/the-mayor-and-faith-conference/
Ask Andy comes to Sandwell
The Mayor will be holding the latest in the series of his ‘Ask Andy’ sessions at Sandwell Council House in Oldbury on Tuesday, December 5.
The event begins at 7pm and the public will be able to ask about the progress we are making as a region in transforming transport, housing and skills. Entry is by ticket only and to register to attend, click the link below.
Mental Health Commission Awards
Look out for next week's WMCA Bulletin for news of how to nominate local mental health ‘stars’ in the Thrive Mental Health Commission Awards.
The WMCA recently announced the awards on World Mental Health Day, as a way to recognise outstanding efforts in the field of mental health, provide a platform to share ideas and good practice and highlight the Thrive West Midlands work.
Anyone can be nominated as a mental health star – a GP, carer, a volunteer or a friend who makes the effort to support and help someone when they’re feeling low. For general information about the awards, click on the link below and further, detailed information will appear here in the next bulletin.
West Midlands on the Move
Next Thursday (November 16) will see the Mayor launch the WMCA's new physical activity strategy ‘West Midlands On The Move’.
The event in Coventry will outline the programme’s plans to boost levels of physical activity and explain the importance of that aim to the WMCA’s social and economic ambitions for the region. It includes using innovative technology such as the 'Human Power Station' where people engaging in physical activity can generate electricity to charge their mobile phones.
The strategy aims to get more residents physically active and address the connection between the costs of inactivity and its impact on transport, housing and education.
Future meetings schedule
WMCA Board (public meeting) - 11am-1pm
- Friday 10 November 2017
- Friday 8 December
- Friday 12 January
- Friday 9 February
WMCA Programme Board (private meeting) - 9am-11am
- Friday 10 November
- Friday 24 November
- Friday 8 December
For more information or to send content for the next WMCA news bulletin, please contact:
PR Executive, West Midlands Combined Authority
0121 214 7157
Follow us on twitter @WestMids_CA