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Patrick Burns, Political editor, Midlands

Patrick Burns Political editor, Midlands

This is my take on politics in the Midlands - a region of five and a half million people with a diverse, exciting political landscape

A local take on the growth agenda

Whitehall
Should decisions about the West Midlands economy be made here or at Whitehall?

"This is the end of the Whitehall-knows-best culture": David Cameron

When the prime minister came to Halesowen College to unveil his government's growth fund, this was his answer to my question about the real significance of these latest deals.

They had been billed as the response to the "No Stone Unturned" report unveiled in Birmingham by the former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine nearly two years ago.

The "big idea" is to give local decision-makers, in the shape of the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), a bigger say in economic development with correspondingly less interference by civil service mandarins closeted in SW1.

In this case, the £775m of growth funding committed to the West Midlands over the next six years will be handed down to our region's six LEPs, headed by leading business people and councillors.

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New local government chief Sparks debate on budget cuts

Statue of Confucius in Beijing
Could Confucius steer the Local Government Association through troubled waters?

"May you live in interesting times" - Confucius?

Commonly known as the "Chinese curse" it is assumed the great man was using "interesting" as a euphemism for "chaotic" or even "disastrous".

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Patrick added analysis to:

West Midlands PCC Bob Jones dies aged 59

"The untimely death at the age of 59 of the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones, has brought about the first departure from office of any of the commissioners who were elected in November 2012.

The government's big idea in triggering PCC elections was to replace the old police authorities (considered by ministers to be invisible and ineffective) with high-profile figures, who would be directly accountable to local communities.

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Library campaigners throw the book at local councils

Dordon Library
Dordon Library has been kept open thanks to volunteers

They have triggered intense storms of protest and even, in the case of Gloucestershire, been declared unlawful in the High Court.

The Commons Culture Media and Sport Select Committee reported some had been implemented with insufficient regard for the needs of local communities.

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Coventry shows dangers of mixing sport and politics

Supporters at a match in February this year
Why oh why? Supporters at a match in February this year

For proof if ever you needed it of just how toxic mixing sport with politics can be, come to Coventry.

As World Cup fever grips the land, anyone arriving in the city could be forgiven for thinking it's the most football crazy place on Earth.

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Trojan Horse: What have we learnt?

Schools involved in the latest Ofsted reports
Some members of the Islamic community believe the 'Trojan Horse' allegations are a hoax....

"What on earth is going on in Birmingham?" asked one of my BBC Westminster colleagues on my first visit to SW1 after the Whit Recess.

I suggested Birmingham, one of the most diverse and youngest cities in Europe, "the Britain of tomorrow", may simply be experiencing the leading edge of an issue which is not unique to this city and could well be played out elsewhere.

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How will UKIP's sums add up in the Midlands?

UKIP candidates
UKIP saw considerable success in the West Midlands after winning 428,010 votes

As Parliament returns after a Whit Recess consumed by pre, post and future-election fever, what are we in the Midlands to make of UKIP's showing in polls which produced no changes of party control whatsoever in any of our 18 local authorities?

Having promised "a political earthquake", Nigel Farage finds the surface landscape of local government in this region remains undisturbed.

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Midlands councils point towards the general election

A ballot box
It's all taking place on 22 May

Why, when and where?

Q: Why aren't we having our local elections as usual on the first Thursday in May?

A: It's hoped that by synchronising them with the European Elections, money will be saved and turnouts raised.

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Seventh Heaven for West Midlands Euro election hopefuls

European Parliament, Strasbourg

The World's Favourite Number?

And the winner is... cue the drum roll please... the number seven.

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Council funding cuts turn friends into polar opposites

Roger Lawrence (l) with Patrick Burns (c) and Philip Atkins (r)
Wolverhampton City Council leader Roger Lawrence (l) and Philip Atkins, leader of Staffordshire County Council leader, have been lifelong friends

Philip Atkins and Roger Lawrence are lifelong friends.

They first met as schoolboys at Denstone College in north Staffordshire, more years ago than either of them care to recall, and their very different career paths have eventually led them in remarkably similar directions.

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More Correspondents

  • John Hess, Political editor, East Midlands John Hess Political editor, East Midlands

    Political musings from the East Midlands to Westminster


  • Paul Barltrop, Political editor, West of England Paul Barltrop Political editor, West of England

    Thoughts and analysis on politics in the West of England


  • Andrew Neil, Presenter, The Daily Politics and Sunday Politics Andrew Neil Daily and Sunday Politics

    People and policies that make Westminster tick


About Patrick

First experience of Parliament as a young BBC journalist was a session of PMQ's when Harold Wilson was being interrogated by Margaret Thatcher.

Reported on The Troubles in Northern Ireland for four years including the worst-ever IRA attack on the army at Warrenpoint.

First became a Lobby journalist at Westminster as part of a team of correspondents which included such legendary figures as John Cole and John Sergeant.

He has been on the "inside track" at Westminster from the "high water" mark of the Thatcher period, through the Blair/Brown era to the unfolding drama of the Cameron/Clegg coalition.

Patrick grew up in Birmingham and went to university in Manchester. He has lived in Birmingham for 25 years.

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