Colors: Purple Color

Businesses in Greater Birmingham have recorded a “remarkable” end-of-year performance in a post-Brexit bonanza, according to Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC). But the labour market in the service sector remains challenging, with all firms surveyed stating they were having difficult in recruitment.  However, according to overall figures published today (December 29), all sectors have contributed towards ensuring the West Midlands is out-performing the rest of the UK.

Sandwell Council leader Councillor Steve Eling visited the Oldbury Delivery Office to thank local postmen and women for their hard work during Royal Mail’s busiest period. This year, Royal Mail has been celebrating its 500th anniversary, with this festive period marking half a millennium of delivering Christmas cards and parcels. Councillor Eling, together with Councillor Paul Moore, the council's cabinet member for regeneration, toured the office.

Paul Thandi, CEO of the NEC Group, one of the World’s top venue management companies to give a keynote speech at the Signature Awards 2017. Since becoming CEO in October 2006 Paul has rebuilt the company’s brands and reputation, created a new senior management team and transformed the Group into a data-led organisation which has included the launch and evolution of The Ticket Factory, now a challenger brand to Ticketmaster.

Wolverhampton’s Civic Halls held their last event on Friday, December 23 before closing for full refurbishment works to get underway in the New Year. Enabling works on the multi-million pound refurbishment of the Grade II listed venue were completed earlier this year. The doors to the Civic Halls temporarily reopened in October for a host of big-name events, which wrapped up with Roy Chubby Brown on Friday. A contractor will be named in the New Year for the main works to start in January.

City of Wolverhampton Council has revealed the battle to win the Wolverhampton Interchange design competition is down to the final three contenders. The full brief was released last month and focuses on i9, the former Steam Mill site, and a refreshed masterplan for the remaining parcels of land within the city’s £132 million transport hub and commercial gateway. Ten of the UK’s leading architects and urban design practices put forward submissions.

Romania’s largest hybrid carrier, Blue Air, has launched three times weekly flights from Birmingham to Cluj-Napoca, the second largest city in Romania. The route launch follows in quick succession from the airline’s announcement of its new route between Birmingham and Larnaca starting in March 2017 and its inaugural Bucharest launch which was celebrated in March this year. Served by a 189 seat Boeing 737-800 aircraft, the carrier will fly to the city of Cluj-Napoca on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

New figures published in Haringey’s Annual Carbon report have shown per capita carbon emissions in the borough have fallen by 37% since 2005. The figures mean Haringey now has a lower carbon footprint (770.4 kt CO2) than six neighbouring boroughs: Camden: 1,355.8 kt CO2, Barnet: 1,125.5 kt CO2, Enfield: 1,108.1 kt CO2, Islington: 876.9 kt CO2, Hackney: 812.1 kt CO2, & Waltham Forest – 775.2 kt CO2.

Business leaders in Birmingham have called on the Government to provide a clear policy programme for businesses following the Bank of England’s decision to leave interest rates at a record low of 0.25 per cent. The last change was a rate cut in August, in the wake of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union. The Bank warned that household budgets could be squeezed because of slower wage growth and higher inflation.  It still expects inflation to rise above the two per cent target, but not as quickly and by not as much as predicted last month. 

The Black Country Chamber of Commerce are calling for investment in infrastructure to support the announcements relating to making the UK as 5G ready as soon as possible. This follows the report from the National Infrastructure Commission that has been published on mobile connectivity. The UK is currently 54th in the world for 4G availability and in rural areas 3% of the population do not have any coverage outside their homes (complete not-spots), whilst 25% do not have coverage offered by all the main mobile networks (partial not-spots).

Midlands businesses will have the chance to explore opportunities in the export market by taking part in trade visits to the United Arab Emirates and Mexico. A Midlands Engine group is travelling to Dubai on 29 January for a market visit to Arab Health. Led by experienced trade advisers, companies taking part in the visit will be able to pre-arrange meetings with commercial advisers and buyers, as well as taking part in other activities such as a networking reception and optional site visits.

Residents are already beginning to feel the benefits of City of Wolverhampton Council regeneration under the Heath Town estate Masterplan. It will bring new housing, refurbished homes, and improved leisure space. As part of this, the ground and lower ground floors of Ling House have been refurbished to provide new office and community space for the Hope Centre.  The charity, whose roots on the estate go back more than 30 years, has been relocated from its dated Chervil Rise premises, which are due to be demolished as part of the wider transformation.

A Newman University graduate has become the inaugural recipient of a national counselling award. Beverley Spalding received the Counselling and Psychotherapy Central Awarding Body’s (CPCAB) Counselling Research Award for her exploration of black and Asian counsellors’ experiences of working with white clients. Some black and Asian participants who made up Ms Spalding’s research group reported reactions of shock and surprise from white clients meeting them for the first time.

Christmas can be a very expensive time of year and can often leave people struggling financially – that’s why Severn Trent is reminding customers about a special cash saving scheme that could be available to them. The Big Difference Scheme, which is a partnership between Severn Trent, the Severn Trent Trust Fund and Citizens Advice, offers discounts of between 10% and 90% off water bills. This year the scheme has joined forces with the Severn Trent choir to spread the message far and wide in a special festive video.

The West Midlands is bucking the national trend when it comes to both employment and unemployment, thanks to a booming local economy. Figures released today by the Office for National Statistics indicate another strong showing for the region on the jobs front between August and October. While employment decreased nationally by 0.1 per cent, it increased by 0.9 per cent in the West Midlands. And Unemployment in the region decreased by 0.9 per cent, despite the national figure remaining at the same level.

Council deputy leader Syeda Khatun gave the stamp of approval to a sprucing up of Sandwell Register Office which is getting a fresh coat of paint. Councillor Khatun joined staff at Grade II-listed Highfields House to see first-hand how the make-over is turning the building from pink to ivory. The building in West Bromwich High Street has been home to Sandwell’s registrars since 1991.