Mr Hemming’s other claim is that the city’s 120 councillors will have limited powers and little to do under a mayoral system.
In fact, organised properly, councillors will be able to make more impact than they do at the moment by organising robust scrutiny of the mayor’s actions.
For the first time, the important scrutiny function will be truly independent and not in the hands of the council’s controlling coalition as is the case at the moment.
It is heartening in these difficult times to learn that at least one Birmingham school appears to have plenty of money to throw around.
Only last month the headteacher of Holy Trinity Catholic Media Arts College in Small Heath, Connie McCormack, was forced to defend a decision to spend £2,577 on staging a teacher training day at the four-star Hyatt Regency Hotel in Broad Street. The venue offered “excellent” value for money, a defiant Ms McCormack insisted.
Now Iron Angle has learnt that the Hyatt is not the only four-star destination to have been enjoyed by Holy Trinity’s hard working staff.
Two years ago, Ms McCormack staged a training day at the plush Marriott Hotel in Birmingham, a venue best known for having accommodated President Clinton during the G8 summit in 1998.
On this occasion it was felt necessary to stay overnight on a Friday, the teachers presumably being too tired to go home following a full day’s training.
Oddly, though, the Marriott training day was attended by only five people, according to the answer to a question I submitted under the Freedom of Information Act. A very elite training session, indeed.
The cost for all day Friday and Saturday morning totalled £782, including £550 for accommodation, £202 for meals and £27 for refreshments.
Asked why staff training could not have been organised at the school, Ms McCormack explained that the site is closed at weekends.
Here’s a radical thought from right field: how about getting the keys from the caretaker, opening up the school and using an empty classroom for a day’s training?
Participants could even bring their own refreshments which they could share amongst each other, thereby engendering some team spirit.