February is here. The days are getting longer, although not warmer at the present time! And 2012 is becoming an action packed year on a number of levels…!
We have seen the Government finally give the green light to High Speed 2. That is not of course the end of the story! We have a while to go until building starts although from my side the work continues on a number of fronts. A crucial part of this is to ensure that we see real commitment to the next phase heading north to Manchester and Leeds, and then beyond that to Scotland.
We are today seeing, perhaps, the unravelling of the Government’s Health Bill. I do not profess to be an expert on health but the political implications here could be significant. There appears to be critical mass forming now to drop this Bill which will be a spectacular success for Andy Burnham and a complete disaster for Andrew Lansley.
From a Birmingham perspective, the referendum for an Elected Mayor is less than 3 months away. Momentum is with our Yes Campaign quite clearly. Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group and Birmingham Forward/Future have come out in favour along with loads of Brummies I have spoken to. The City Governance model needs to change and having seen Liverpool press ahead with their elected mayor, Britain’s second city needs to also march forward if it is to see the development and competitive edge be retained.
On a personal level, boxing training continues apace. Fighting Fit City Gym are doing a great job of instilling discipline as well as enjoyment as i slog my guts out in regular early morning training. The technique behind boxing is intense, complex, a mix of learning by rote almost while developing reflexes and intuitive responses to pretty much twitches form the opponent. The level of fitness needed is painful! But it is really amazing training!
It has been noted that I have spent a lot of time in London recently. Given my job involves government relations and working with officials and various stakeholders, Westminster is a second home to a certain extent. London is also my hometown of course and I know it better than any other place on the planet. There is a Mayoral election coming up of course and watching Ken come back into the race and truly compete with Boris for the ‘Olympic Mayoralty’ is an exciting prospect (I can openly say that I voted for Ken in 2000 and 2004). Interestingly, Ken’s pledge on transport fares and the fare deal have been a major factor in this improval in his electoral fortunes of late. Commuting and transport may be mundane but they are critically important to our everyday lives. Good on Ken for speaking to Londoners about what actually matters in a clear, honest and sensible way without the guff and piffle of the present incumbent…
Also, it has been interesting to see Boris wholeheartedly embrace (steal) Ken’s policy to take control of London’s suburban rail network into Transport for London and integrated with London Transport. This is a great policy (particularly I suppose from a South London perspective!!) as integrated journeys, information, planning, branding, services are all beneficial to the passenger. This policy first appeared with Ken while he was still Mayor and TfL have, I am sure, been working on it, it will be interesting to see how it progresses over the coming months.