Region plugs in to future battery power
An £80 million funding boost will supercharge the West Midlands’ bid to be at the forefront of global electric vehicle technology, after a new national battery facility in the Coventry area was announced by Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy yesterday (29 November).
The National Battery Manufacturing Development Facility will be set up by WMG at the University of Warwick, in partnership with Coventry City Council and the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP).
It will provide a crucial new strategic link between the research, development and full-scale industrialisation for battery technologies across the UK, enabling effective partnerships to be established between manufacturers, researchers, and economic development leaders - while remaining independent from commercial interests.
The facility will also create battery products that are ahead of international performance benchmarks, attracting inward investment and significantly upscaling UK skills in the sector.
The National Battery Manufacturing Development was part of the Government’s £246m Faraday Challenge and awarded through a competition led by the Advanced Propulsion Centre, supported by Innovate UK. It is also an initial element of the Government’s new Industrial Strategy.
PM backs successful Faith Conference
On Monday (November 27), faith representatives from across the region attended a landmark conference organised by the Mayor and the University of Birmingham to examine ways of tackling pressing social problems. The conference in the university's Great Hall was a major success – with even Prime Minister Theresa May tweeting her support and best wishes. The event was significantly oversubscribed and around 400 people watched the event live on Twitter.
More than 450 delegates attended the Mayor and Faith Conference: Faith in the West Midlands to discuss ways of taking action on homelessness, hate crime, leadership and the economy. Presentations were given on these areas by Stephen Philpott of homeless charity St Basil’s, Anita Bhalla OBE, chair of the Mayor’s Leadership Commission, David Jamieson, the Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands and Bishop of Birmingham and Member of the Banking Standards Board, the Right Reverend David Urquhart.
The Mayor, working with a faith-based steering group, organised the conference to help begin shaping priorities and ways of working with different groups affected by the issues. A framework of proposals aimed at tackling the themes and drawing on ideas discussed by delegates will now be prepared by the Mayor’s office ready for the New Year.
The Mayor and Cohesion prize, designed to celebrate the best projects involved in cross-community working, was among several announcements made at the conference and will be unveiled next summer.
WMCA welcomes Industrial Strategy
On Tuesday (28 November) the government announced its Industrial Strategy, which WMCA and business leaders see as a springboard to harnessing the region’s economic strengths.
Following the second West Midlands’ devolution deal announced in last week’s Budget, the Mayor and the WMCA will produce a local industrial strategy for the region, bringing together social and economic ambitions to deliver inclusive growth. This local strategy will focus on priority areas including skills, jobs, housing, public service, transport and innovation.
The national strategy will set the context for our regional work and recognises that the best people to drive forward local economies are those who live, work and do business there. The WMCA, led by the Mayor and supported by the LEPs, is now aiming for early progress, ahead of the national timetable, to agree Local Industrial Strategies by 2019.
Caption: Business Secretary Greg Clark on a visit to the region with WMCA Mayor Andy Street
Nominate your mental health star
Nominations have opened for the first ever WMCA Thrive Mental Health Commission Awards. An awards ceremony, on Wednesday 31 January, will mark the first year of the Thrive West Midlands programme to improve mental health and wellbeing.
Nominations are invited from across the region and each constituent and non-constituent local authority area will be represented on the shortlists. The public is invited to nominate anyone they feel has made a difference to someone’s mental wellbeing - friend, family, work colleague, carer or health professional.
Each authority’s wellbeing board will devise a shortlist from nominations in their area and a Mental Health Star award will go to one person from each locality. Nominations close at 9am on Monday 18 December 2017. More information about the awards or the Thrive Mental Health Action Plan is available from firstname.lastname@example.org
Highways consultation for Solihull
Solihull Council is proposing to introduce a new highway works permit scheme by October 2018. This scheme is intended to assist the council in managing and co-ordinating road and street works in the public highway, minimising disruption.
The introduction of permits will mean that asset owners, such as utility companies, will need to apply for one and have it approved before undertaking work on the highway. The consultation will run for 10 weeks, please click here for further information.
Responses should be sent to email@example.com. Written responses should be marked 'Permit Scheme Consultation' and be sent to: Highway Management, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, The Council House, Manor Square, Solihull, B91 3QT.
Deadline for responses is no later than 5pm on 26 January, 2018. For more information, please contact Mark Corbin, Key Route Network Manager (0121 214 7355).
Trams under the e-hammer at auction
The chance to own a unique piece of West Midlands' transport history has been announced, with the news that 15 of the former Midland Metro type T-69 trams which ran on Line One between Wolverhampton Saint George's and Birmingham Snow Hill are up for sale by e-auction.
Originally purchased from Italian manufacturer Ansaldo Trasporti and in operation between 1998-2014, the light rail vehicles are currently in storage at Long Marston Airfield in Warwickshire.
Full accounts and descriptions of the condition of the vehicles are available and visits to the storage facility are by appointment only. The trams will be 'sold as seen'. The e-Auction will take place on 29 January 2018, at 10am. To register your interest in this unique opportunity contact Chris Robinson, Metro Procurement Lead Officer, at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sign up for 'Ask Andy' this Monday
The latest in the Mayor's series of ‘Ask Andy’ question and answer sessions will take place at Sandwell Council House in Oldbury on Tuesday, 5 December.
Doors open at 6.45pm and the event begins at 7pm. It is a chance for residents of Sandwell and the wider West Midlands to come and ask the Mayor about the issues that matter to them in a relaxed Q & A format. Entry is by ticket only and to register to attend, click here.
Zabina is Junior Lawyer of the Year
Congratulations to Zabina Bi, commercial lawyer at WMCA, who has won the Lawyers in Local Government's award for Junior Lawyer of the Year. Zabina, who is based at WMCA headquarters in Summer Lane, Birmingham, received the award at the city's Burlington Hotel on Friday (24 November).
The judges commented that Zabina 'had demonstrated a progressive and innovative approach to large, multi-disciplinary projects involving numerous agencies and geographical boundaries. Evidencing an exceptional contribution to local government, the winner is a leading example for all junior lawyers'.
The WMCA legal team was also a finalist in the Governance Team of the Year, Legal Team of the Year and Project Team of the Year awards.
Future meetings schedule
WMCA Board (public meeting) - 11am-1pm
- Friday 8 December
- Friday 12 January
- Friday 9 February
- Friday 9 March
WMCA Programme Board (private meeting) - 9am-11am
- Friday 8 December
- 15 December 2017
- 12 January 2018
- 26 January 2018
For more information or to send content for the next WMCA news bulletin, please contact:
PR Executive, West Midlands Combined Authority
0121 214 7157
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