Government calls for removal of John Hemming as Chair of Strategic Partnership (or do they?)
We have been told that next year's NRF for Birmingham will be over £32,000,000. That is obviously good news for the city.
There is a difficulty, however, in that in informal meetings representatives of the government have been threatening to not pay that money to Birmingham unless I am sacked as chair of the BSP.
I confirmed this in an informal discussion with Graham Garbett (director Government Office West Midlands) on Monday this week.
If the government say they will fine Birmingham £32 Million unless I resign of course I will fall on my sword. This is not, however, something that the government should get involved in. I have always had concerns about Civil Servants trying to exclude elected politicians from decisionmaking.
After the discussion on Monday I spoke to Joe Montgomery (director Neighbourhood Renewal Unit) and asked him for his views. He said he would talk to the minister. Joe phoned me on Wednesday, but would not answer the question as to whether or not it was acceptable for me to continue chairing the Strategic Partnership.
Clearly this issue has to be clarified. I was told that I would get a letter from Government Office. Nothing has arrived as yet. The answer needs to be either "yes" or "no". Weasel words that say nothing whilst sly, implied threats of funding cuts are made in confidential meetings are no good to anyone.
Frankly I believe that the government's actions on this are appalling. They are riding roughshod over local democracy. This does not bode well for the future. What I want now is an answer from Government Office. Is it or is it not acceptable for me to remain as Chair of the Strategic Partnership?