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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

West Midlands councils braced for funding cuts

  • 18 December 2014
  • From the section England
View of Library of Birmingham from the amphitheatre
More than half of the 188 staff at the new library's staff are to be cut, and opening hours halved

Next year's £117m savings proposed by Birmingham City Council mean 1,100 more job losses.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council set out plans to save £31m with the loss of 500 jobs on the very day the chancellor's Autumn Statement confirmed we are not even halfway through the so-called 'Austerity Cuts'.

With government spending still outstripping its income by £90bn per year, we know that where Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent have gone already, others will surely follow.

The message from Birmingham's Labour leader, Cllr Sir Albert Bore, is that although his administration is directly responsible for the cutbacks, the political blame for them rests with the coalition government.

But Conservative council leaders, including Philip Atkins in Staffordshire, see things very differently.

'Working smarter'

Read full article West Midlands councils braced for funding cuts

Why Coventry has a crucial say in devolution debate

  • 10 December 2014
  • From the section England
Map of UK jigsaw

Q. "What do you get if you draw a line from Gloucester north east to Grimsby?"

A. "The real dividing line between north and south," says Professor David Bailey, from Aston University in Birmingham.

Read full article Why Coventry has a crucial say in devolution debate

Osborne's open door ups the ante for Midlands devo deal

  • 3 December 2014
  • From the section England
George Osborne
Mr Osborne said in a recent interview with the Birmingham Post that there was no one-size-fits-all model

"We have delivered in Manchester and my door is open to other cities who want to follow their cross-party lead."

George Osborne's overture to major cities who have yet to benefit from the sort of largesse he showered on the "Northern Powerhouse" during his Autumn Statement clearly ramps-up the pressure on council leaders in places like Coventry and Solihull.

Read full article Osborne's open door ups the ante for Midlands devo deal

University leader speaks out on "good immigration"

  • 28 November 2014
  • From the section England
Students
The University of Birmingham's chancellor has called for an increase in the number of international students

Immigration seems to be the big issue driving our politics - from every doorstep on every street, to Westminster, Brussels and beyond, right up to the general election and who knows for how long after that.

And this week's net migration figures will only add fuel to the argument.

Read full article University leader speaks out on "good immigration"

Midlands set to become an even bigger 'Powerhouse'

  • 12 November 2014
  • From the section England
Sir Albert Bore
Can Sir Albert Bore convince the government that Birmingham should be given a larger role in rebalancing the economy?

"Come and join us!"

There was more than an echo of the old Corries song when I talked to the leader of Britain's biggest local authority for Midlands Today.

Read full article Midlands set to become an even bigger 'Powerhouse'

Why Coventry schools may be a lesson in themselves

  • 4 November 2014
  • From the section England
Classroom
"Outstanding" schools in Coventry have partnered with failing schools in a bid to drive up performance

From zero to hero.

It sounds like the unlikeliest of turnarounds in fortune. And so quickly too.

Read full article Why Coventry schools may be a lesson in themselves

HS2 station at Crewe could be hard lines for Stoke

  • 28 October 2014
  • From the section England
Stoke-on-Trent city leaders said running the line through Stoke-on-Trent would deliver benefits to more people
Stoke-on-Trent councillors said running the line through the city would deliver benefits to more people

The proposed route for high-speed rail may be as straight as a die, but the sound and fury of the debate surrounding the project is full of ironic twists and turns.

While thousands of people in Warwickshire and Staffordshire have been fighting tooth and claw to have it re-routed away from their backyards (or ideally scrapped altogether) decision-makers in Stoke-on-Trent are battling equally ferociously for the route to come their way.

Read full article HS2 station at Crewe could be hard lines for Stoke

Worcestershire takes new lead in devolution debate

  • 22 October 2014
  • From the section England
Birmingham Council House
Should decision making be taken away from Westminster and be given to Birmingham?

"What about us?"

A chorus of 'me toos' echoed across the land when David Cameron declared, in the wake of the Scottish Referendum result, that "we must re-empower our great cities".

Read full article Worcestershire takes new lead in devolution debate

Police commissioners to be decommissioned say Labour

  • 14 October 2014
  • From the section England
Theresa May
The role of police and crime commissioner is one of Theresa May's flagship policies

"If it's broke, don't fix it!"

Labour says it would turn the well-worn catchphrase on its head because the role of police and crime commissioner (PCC), one of the flagship policies of Home Secretary Theresa May, is broken beyond repair.

Read full article Police commissioners to be decommissioned say Labour

Political chess is game of chance as end game nears

  • 1 October 2014
  • From the section England
Kings on a chess board
Politics is a game of moves and false moves, just like a game of chess

"It's like a game of chess," we used to say in days gone by.

Every move our politicians made could be analysed and interpreted, not only for its significance in the wider electoral tournament but also for the possible moves, or false moves, it might induce from opponents.

Read full article Political chess is game of chance as end game nears

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

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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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