Colors: Purple Color

Some of Sandwell's biggest employers are to be given the chance to talk to council chiefs on how money is spent on local authority services. The consultation will also include business organisations, as well as groups representing local firms and the voluntary sector. The meeting will give businesses a chance to give feedback to the council on its spending proposals for the next financial year.

The deadline to enter the 2016 RICS West Midlands Awards – which are widely regarded as the regional property ‘Oscars’ - has been extended to Friday 22 January 2016. The annual awards celebrate the region’s most inspirational built initiatives and developments that provide real value to the communities they serve. In the past winners have included small projects achieved by the vision of one person, to globally recognised developments with significant budgets.

China’s blue chip shares rebounded  after the top securities regulator said it would keep in place a selling ban that was soon to expire. While economic news had been the main reason the CSI300 Index plunged 7% on Monday, triggering circuit breakers that shut down the market for the day, the selling ban on major shareholders of large corporations had been blamed as a secondary reason. The ban had been put into place to arrest the stock market rout last summer.

A 2,500 sq ft Digital Health incubator will be featured within Innovation Birmingham’s Serendip® Smart City Incubator in the new £8m iCentrum® building. The NHS-funded West Midlands Academic Health Science Network (WMAHSN) has signed up as the partner to deliver the new challenge-led facility, enabling tech start-ups to access the region’s network of NHS trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Birmingham City Council Cabinet members will be online this week to answer budget consultation questions in a special two-hour webcast. The 2016+ budget consultation was launched last month and residents are now being urged to have their say on the proposals before consultation closes on January 8. City council leader Councilor John Clancy and his cabinet answered questions in two public meetings and a webcast before Christmas.

Two leading figures in the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce (ABCC) in Birmingham have received awards in the New Year’s Honours. Nasir Awan, the ABCC’s chairman, and its vice-president Aftab Chughtai have both received MBEs. Mr Awan (pictured), chief executive of Awan Marketing International plc, received the award for services to business and international trade and Mr Chughtai’s MBE was for services to business and community relations in Birmingham.

Nearly 30 buses in Birmingham will be fitted with green technology to cut harmful emissions by up to 90%, after a successful bid for £486,000 of funding was announced today. The Clean Bus Technology Fund 2015 is being awarded to 18 local authorities across England to retrofit buses with technology to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions in pollution hotspots. Due to their high mileage and long operational life, introducing greener buses can significantly help air quality in town and city centres.

As people across the country go back to work and their daily routines after the festive season, January is usually the time when most will take stock of their finances to look for savings on their monthly outgoings. With commuting costs taking up a large chunk of many people’s budget, Sainsbury’s Bank Credit Cards has researched the cost of some of the country’s most popular rail routes for commuters.

Qatar Airways experienced a milestone year in 2015, from beginning with the start of A350 operations for which it was the global launch customer, to growing its fleet by 20 per cent, through to ending on a high note by launching a new brand campaign, “Going Places Together” and debuting an exclusive on-board safety video featuring the world-famous FC Barcelona players.

A Wolverhampton-based health cover provider, Paycare has been confirmed as the latest Founder Patron of the city’s new £6 million Youth Zone. The School Street facility – named The Way – will open its doors in January with a host of sporting and cultural activities for young people aged 8 – 19, and up to 25 for those with disabilities. Paycare is investing £75,000 in The Way over the next three years which will support the charity in engaging and inspiring young people in Wolverhampton.

Recruitment difficulties for Greater Birmingham manufacturers are at a record high – with an overwhelming 89 per cent of firms facing hiring problems, especially for skilled workers. Figures from the economic survey by Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) for the last quarter of 2015, supported by recruitment and people development agency Katie Bard, show that staff recruitment concerns among manufacturers are at their highest level according to official figures, which date back to autumn, 1997.

City of Wolverhampton Council has revealed ambitious plans to deliver a mixed residential development of 72 homes on the former Tower and Fort Works site in Pelham Street, Graiseley. The project will see the 3.4 acres of land sold to a development partner for high quality family homes for private sale or rent. A quarter of the homes will be set aside as affordable council houses at an estimated cost of £2 million, which will come from the Housing Revenue Account.

As prime Surrey estate agency celebrates 50 years in Virginia Water this year, Partner James Wyatt muses the year ahead: "At the end of 2014, I predicted that the FTSE 100 would end 2015 at 7125. It is clear that my crystal ball needs a serious service. "The price crash in commodities and oil during 2015 has laid waste to my prediction, and therein lies the rub when it comes to predicting where the property markets may be headed - we just don't know what might be round the corner.

One of the West Midlands’ leading media entrepreneurs has filmed a documentary about his work in the USA – and it features UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) advisers who have helped him gain success. Barry Tomes, founder of Barry Tomes Media Group, says overseas trade at the Gotham Records arm of his business has increased by 60% over the past ten years, since he first engaged with UKTI through the Director of International Trade Jonathan Webber.

Birmingham City Council leader, Cllr John Clancy, has responded to calls for more consultation on budget proposals by adding a third public meeting in the south of the city. The 2016+ budget consultation, setting out budget proposals for 2016/17 – 2019/20, was published last week and, in addition to a range of meetings with groups affected, public meetings have already been held in Erdington and the Council House.