Business News

Panel publishes its final report

The Birmingham Independent Improvement Panel published its final report to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. The panel, which has now been

stood down, was established following the Kerslake report into the governance and financial capability of Birmingham City Council. In its report the panel

acknowledges that the council is intending to maintain ‘constructive’ and ‘critical challenge’ through internal scrutiny and sector-led arrangements. But, in the light of the exceptional

risks that the council is facing, the panel considers that this type of challenge will be insufficient. The panel has recommended

that the Secretary of State should put in place external independent challenge and support, additional to that proposed by the council, to replace the panel, now that the panel has stood down.

New website will help residents breathe easy

Drivers are being urged to prepare for the introduction of the Birmingham Clean Air Zone (CAZ) by checking to see if their vehicle will be subject to the charge. The CAZ will be introduced in

January 2020 as part of a concerted effort to improve the city’s overall air quality, as well as reduce emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. To help businesses and city

centre drivers plan, the Business Breathes website, which has been launched as part of Brum Breathes, Birmingham City Council’s air quality campaign, has advice on which vehicles will be subject to the charge.

‘The Clean Air Zone will represent a significant change in terms of the way people travel around the city’

The authority has announced a

Meaningful progress: John Crabtree The panel’s chair, John Crabtree,

said: “Our report to the Secretary of State outlines the council’s progress during the last 10 months together with our overall conclusions and reflections on our four years in Birmingham. “In the report we acknowledge the

meaningful progress that the council has made since June 2018 and the huge amount of work that it is doing to get itself on the right track. “We recognise too the many significant opportunities available to the City Council, notably the Commonwealth Games 2022. “But, despite creditable efforts

and achievements, the council’s financial position remains immensely serious and the risks to its financial resilience are considerable. “Crucially, the council’s progress

has been badly affected by industrial disputes and poor industrial relations. It understands that it must modernise its industrial relations if it is to make improvements. “The council recognises that it is

in the foothills of its improvement journey. In this context, if it is to succeed, it will need to consistently demonstrate courageous and creative political leadership and muster all the capability, capacity and support that it can.”


package of measures that will help businesses and individuals affected by the CAZ, after it was allocated £38m from the Clean Air Fund for support measures. This includes almost £15m to help taxi drivers to upgrade to cleaner, greener vehicles. Commercial vehicles – buses,

coaches, Hackney cabs and HGVs – that do not meet the criteria can use retrofit technology that is approved by the Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme. The council has also said it will

introduce a range of exemptions for eligible businesses and individuals - including residents living within the CAZ, those travelling to a place of work that is

Significant change: Councillor Waseem Zaffar

in the CAZ and commercial vehicles registered in the CAZ - to give them additional time to change to compliant vehicles. However, for those not exempt,

the most polluting cars, taxis and vans that do not meet the standards will be charged daily £8 to the enter the CAZ, while non- compliant HGVs, buses and coaches will be subject to a £50 daily charge. All vehicles must meet the

following fuel type criteria if they are to avoid the charge: • Euro VI diesel or newer, which applies to most diesel engines registered after September 1 2015;

• Euro 4 standard or newer for petrol vehicles – or LPG added to original petrol engine, which applies to most new registrations after 1 January 2006;

• Euro 6 gas standard or better; • All fully electric or hydrogen fuel cell;

• Hybrid electric are compliant if

they meet the relevant criteria for diesel or petrol engines.

If drivers are unsure about the

Euro band of their vehicle, they are advised to contact the manufacturer directly. The Government is currently developing a number plate checker which will provide the Euro band. It is anticipated this will go live by Q4 this year. Councillor Waseem Zaffar,

Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment at Birmingham City Council, said: “The Clean Air Zone will represent a significant change in terms of the way people travel around the city, so it is important that those who rely on the use of vehicles for their business are able to make the necessary preparations and access the relevant support ahead of its implementation in January 2020.”

For more details, visit:

Barclays to relocate 335 Birmingham jobs

Barclays Bank is set to relocate 335 jobs from Birmingham and Coventry. The banking giant has confirmed plans to move the

roles to sites in Glasgow, Greater Manchester and Northampton where it has invested in new campuses and office space. A spokesperson said staff at Birmingham Snowhill

and Coventry’s Westwood Business Park who are impacted by the changes will be offered support to find alternative roles within the Barclays Group. “We have announced that a number of operations

and technology roles are relocating within the UK,” said the Barclays spokesperson. “We are not reducing the number of jobs overall,

except in a few cases of duplication, and we will remain a significant employer in both Coventry and Birmingham. “Across our Birmingham and Coventry offices, there

are a total of 335 roles impacted by these changes. “Our colleagues who are impacted, will be offered

support to find alternative roles within the Barclays Group. “We remain committed to Birmingham and

Coventry and following these changes, we continue to employ over 1000 people in Birmingham and over 500 at Westwood Park in Coventry as well as further staff across our branch network in the West Midlands.”

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