Colors: Purple Color

Most cities in the Midlands are performing above the UK average, according to the latest 2016 Good Growth for Cities Index, produced by PwC and the think-tank, Demos. The fifth annual Good Growth index measures the performance of 42 of the UK’s largest cities, England’s Local Enterprise Partnerships LEPs  and the new Combined Authorities against a basket of categories defined by the public and business as key to local socio-economic success.

Sandwell’s adult social care chief has given the thumbs-up to a new extra care housing development in West Bromwich during a visit to meet residents and others who attend activities there. Councillor Ann Shackleton, the council’s cabinet member for social care, said everyone she met at Oakley Gardens seemed happy and settled. Developed in partnership with Housing and Care 21, Oakley Gardens is set within landscaped gardens and has 81 one and two-bedroom apartments for residents aged 55 and over with care and support needs.

Retailers and business owners in Seychelles this week had the opportunity to voice concerns and ask questions of environment officials ahead of the ban on plastic that begins in January. The Principal Secretary for Environment Alain Decommarmond said the dialogue was important “to ensure there is a smooth transition so that we can meet the January deadline without any problems.”

A new dedicated online space for investors to buy, sell and compare available buy-to-let properties has been launched by estate agency firm Leaders. It brings together the UK’s largest selection of buy-to-let properties for sale, including properties available through Leaders’ sister company Romans, each of which has been identified as having outstanding investment potential, making it easy for investors to search and compare the best buy-to-let options.

Walsall College is looking to speak to businesses who would like to take students on for one-week work experience placements to support young people to develop their employability skills and potentially secure new talent for their organisation. The college’s work experience scheme enables employers to meet and inspire prospective and enthusiastic candidates who are learning the skills identified as key to their industry, and benefit from any new ideas students can bring to their organisation.

Voluntary organisations are being urged to apply for a grant to help them provide free after-school clubs and play schemes for Sandwell children. The council is looking for not-for-profit groups to run sessions across Sandwell for children aged between six and 12, and for up to 16-year-olds with additional needs. The Local Play Services Play Grant, which is worth a minimum of £40,000 a year for each of Sandwell’s six towns, will fund independent projects between April 2017 and March 2020.

An air of uncertainty still looms over parts of the Midlands commercial property market but much of with the region has shown some tentative signs of optimism post Brexit, according to the latest RICS Commercial Market Survey. On the whole the commercial property market across the Midlands has started showing some signs of recovery. Occupier demand edged up in Q3 with 21% more respondents reporting a rise in demand at an all sector level (up from 7% in Q2).

A new form of male contraception and enhanced fertility treatments could both soon be a reality thanks to pioneering work from two University of Wolverhampton scientists. Professor John Howl and Dr Sarah Jones are at the forefront of cell penetrating peptide research which it is hoped could be used in both IVF and birth control techniques in the future. They have teamed up with the University of Aveiro in Portugal on a €194,000 three-year project to look at the impact of cell penetrating peptides – and in particular the way in which they can control the function of sperm.

Forty-two percent of young women aged between 13 and 22 believe gender discrimination will hold them back in their future careers. However, they claim that the rise of female leaders such as Theresa May and Hilary Clinton could help to change sexist attitudes and encourage workplace diversity, according to a new YouGov survey commissioned by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Private housing developers are holding back on developments due to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and land value losses, warn experts from law firm Clarke Willmott LLP. While new home building fund announcements have been welcomed, as they indicate a shift towards a more flexible approach towards homes being built for rent as well as for sale, fewer planning applications are being granted permission according to social housing experts at the firm.

City of Wolverhampton Council is set to launch an exciting new initiative to provide vital skills, training and support for city residents to secure Yoo Recruit jobs. The move comes following feedback from city employers that suggests CVs, interview skills, confidence levels, and skill set usually prevent some residents from finding and sustaining employment. The council’s economic inclusion service and city partners have recently enjoyed success in getting people into WV Active, Cleaning & Catering, and Public Realm vacancies on the back of successful ‘Fast Track’ programmes.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has once again triumphed at the 'Group Leisure Awards', after being voted 'Best Cruise Line for Groups' by readers of leading travel title, Group Leisure magazine, for a record sixth time! The prestigious award recognises the very best groups cruise experience, from the initial booking process to onboard facilities, and the quality of excursions on offer.

The West Midlands is outperforming the rest of the UK when it comes to employment, according to the latest job figures. Figures released by the Office for National Statistics show employment in the region rose by 1.0 per cent, compared to a national increase of 0.1 per cent.  In a further boost, the inactivity rate (those unable to seek employment) is down by 1.1 per cent, while unemployment remains unchanged.

City of Wolverhampton Council Strategic Director of Place, Tim Johnson, have officially announced at MIPIM UK an exciting design competition for the city’s prestigious i9 site within the Interchange development. The council and development partner, Neptune Developments, have called for an eye-catching modern office building befitting of a national headquarters or regional office which will be developed in this important site opposite the i10 building on Railway Drive.

Energy demand in new homes could be halved if more focus is put on the shape and form of housing being built, the latest report from the NHBC Foundation has found. The current Building Regulations methodology used to demonstrate energy/carbon compliance does not give credit for the energy efficiency inherent in simple forms of homes, and there has been little incentive for designers to use this as part of their low-energy strategies.