Birmingham has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country at 48,000 (Mar 2013)
For years the CEO held Birmingham City Council (BCC) as a shining example to one and all. For example, Birmingham has a population of just over a million and it had a budget of over £3.5bn which means that BCC spends £3,500 per resident. After the public expenditure cuts, BCC's budget has fallen to below £3.5bn and will probably continue to fall.
Neighbouring Sandwell Council has a population of 285,000 and had a budget of over £265m which means that Sandwell spends less than £1000 per resident. Maybe Central Government doesn't trust Sandwell Council with providing services (if any) as much as it trusts Birmingham.
Another example is that Birmingham has 40 wards and each one has 3 Councillors giving a total of 120 Councillors that's roughly 8,500 per Councillor. Neighbouring Sandwell Council has 24 wards each one having 3 Councillors giving a total of 72 Councillors that's roughly 4,000 per Councillor. This means that Birmingham Councillors are more efficient than Sandwell Councillors and Sandwell Council is typical of other Unitary Councils. It also makes Birmingham (known to be the biggest Local Authority and landlord in Europe) the most efficient Council.
But it isn't as rosy as the above statistics imply. According to the Guardian's Datablog, Birmingham has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country at 48,000 (Mar 2013) with the Ladywood constituency being the worst affected. So it makes sense to start with Birmingham as it seems to be most in need of unemployment reduction.
Incidentally, the CEO lived in the Ladywood constituency for 36 years (before moving to Bartley Green) and it's ironic that it happens to be the worst unemployment blackspot in the country. The Ladywood constituency has 4 wards:
The Leader of Birmingham City Council is one of the Councillors for the Ladywood ward but the problem isn't in that ward. It's in the Nechells and Soho wards as the Aston and Ladywwod wards share parts of the City Centre particularly the Ladywwod ward which has the prosperous Broad Street and Hagley Road within its jurisdiction.
When the CEO was a constituent of the Ladywood ward, he attended many ward meetings a number of which he heard the ward Councillors persuading their constituents to agree to the top-slicing of their budget and this occurred year after year. When asked where this money would be spent, it was always outside the constituency never mind the ward.
In another meeting where the Councillors were showcasing an employment drive - at last they're tackling the problem - one of the companies that was going to invest in the constituency was asked will they employ Ladywood residents. Their answer was startling: Ladywood residents are not skilled enough to do the jobs and that they will bring their own staff. We're back to square one; this initiative is worthless to the residents.
The CEO agreed as it's the Council's responsibility to ensure that the residents qualify for such jobs and they should state that employing local residents as one of the overriding criteria for winning the contract. If the residents qualify too late for this project, they should be equipped for the next project. In fact, the CEO is putting his shares where his mouth is i.e. it has become one of the principles of FullEmploy.
Sutton Coldfield is the richest constituency in Birmingham. The CEO attended several Council meetings and watched proceedings from the public gallery. In one meeting one of the Sutton Coldfield Councillors petitioned the Council for money to eliminate the 'pockets of poverty' in Sutton Coldfield. It was carried. Nobody gave any consideration to the gaping blackholes in the Ladywood constituency. And, from where is the Council going to get that money? Probably from top-slicing Ladywood's budget. No wonder the Ladywood constituency is still the worst unemployment blackspot in the country.
Although the CEO is going to start in the Bartley Green ward, his former constituency Ladywood should be next on the list for obvious reasons. There may be a problem because, while he lived in the Ladywood ward, as a concerned resident, he ruffled a few feathers for the said reasons. However, these Councillors whose feathers had been ruffled, will not be dealing with the CEO directly; they'll be dealing with the ward manager of their ward and perhaps with the Birmingham area manager.