Collective effort needed to unleash city’s ‘untapped potential’ – council leader
27th October 2023
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Councillor John Cotton was part of a guest panel at the launch of the 2023 Birmingham Economic Review, hosted by Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce and the University of Birmingham.

Speaking at The Exchange building on Broad Street in Birmingham city centre, Cllr Cotton addressed a host of subjects including the untapped potential in deprived areas of the city, the positive sentiment from last summer’s Commonwealth Games and the well-documented financial problems facing Birmingham City Council.

On the socio-economic challenges facing some parts of Birmingham, such as high unemployment and fuel poverty, Cllr Cotton said: “I think there’s a lot of untapped potential in our city.

“Our collective mission, not just for the council but for all of us, whatever sector we’re in, is to link the communities with the growth, the investment and the opportunities that are coming into Birmingham and the wider West Midlands.

“Addressing these inequalities is essential to unleashing the potential of the city.

“But this has to be a collective City of Birmingham endeavour. The council can’t fix it on its own, business can’t fix it on its own, communities can’t fix it themselves on their own – we have to work collectively.

“We have to look at the investment that is coming into Birmingham to start to fix some of those socio-economic challenges.”

Addressing the financial challenges facing the city council following the issuing of a Section 114 order in September, Cllr Cotton said: “Of course, there are issues we’re having to address as a council that are specific to Birmingham. But it is also important to bear in mind that this is happening in the wider context of a perfect storm taking place right across Britain at the moment.

“We’ve seen effectively a 40 per cent cut in the finance available to local government over the last decade. Local authorities are also dealing with all the things businesses are – rising costs, rising inflation and additional demand for services as well.

“So, there are some specific issues for Birmingham but there is also a broader context here as well.”

Addressing the appointment of commissioners to help tackle the financial crisis, Cllr Cotton added: “We’ve got some of the best minds in local government here to help us address those issues.”

Cllr Cotton was joined on the panel by Schumacher Packing managing director Mike Owens, KPMG’s Birmingham office senior partner Andy Bostock and University of Birmingham’s Professor of Regional Economic Development Anne Green.

Professor Green provided an overview of some of the key trends from the 2023 Economic Review, including the region’s attractiveness for foreign direct investment, as well as some of the challenges facing business such as labour market challenges and high interest rates.

The Birmingham Economic Review is an annual report produced by the City-Region Economic and Development Institute (City-REDI) at the University of Birmingham and the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce.

Read the 2023 Birmingham Economic Review.

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