Mayoral Combined Authorities - What can they do for us?
Achievements to-date, Brexit implications and a new Constitutional Settlement for England

Getting a ‘Fair Deal’ in England has proved to be problematic. Politically, Britain is recognised as one of the most centralised countries in Europe with London receiving over half the total national infrastructure spending each year. Against a background of persistent poverty this seems unfair especially given the increasing criticisms of capitalism following on from the financial crisis and leading to greater regional inequality. A consequence has been political turmoil creating the belief that solutions proffered by the extreme left and right will provide a remedy to inequality.


The Barnett Formula, devised in 1978 by Joel Barnett, is the mechanism used by the Treasury to 'automatically' adjust the amounts of public spending allocated to the devolved nations. Critics of this formula argue that it simply enshrines regional inequality by not ensuring the money goes to the areas in greatest need, including in England. Indeed, even though it is still the basis for funding the three devolved governments, it has been called a "terrible mistake" by Barnett himself.


Devolution is promoted as a way to achieve reater equality in funding and more regional decision-making in England to deliver a more balanced, inclusive economy. Issues requiring regional overview include integrated infrastructure, connectivity, skills development, health and social care, educating future generations to meet regional need.


Business and political leaders in the regions are only too well-aware of the need for greater talent retention, increased affordable housing, eliminating homelessness, integrating care systems across health and social care and better spatial planning. The formation of Combined Authorities with elected ‘Metro’ Mayors accountable for additional funding and powers transferred from central government to city regions was advocated by George Osborne in May 2015 as a means of achieving this and providing regions with a stronger voice.


In the West Midlands, the Metro Mayor representing 2 million electors, stands as a powerful interaction between the powerful, centralised Whitehall machinery and local need. The Metro Mayor has had to operate in a climate in which local authorities within the West Midlands have, as a result of decisions taken by the government in Westminster, seen their budgets slashed by over 50% in the past decade.


The belief that austerity will reduce the budget deficit has caused immense damage to communities in all regions including the West Midlands. Developing and scaling social entrepreneurship, drawing on local assets to ‘lever in’ increased private funding unfettered by City-oriented shareholder returns and targeting real regional need, as well as delivering multi-year financial settlements in local government, remain essential. This requires implementation challenges to be tackled through greater coordination at local level.


This conference, co-hosted by IDEA Institute and the Centre for Brexit Studies, at Birmingham City University, will explore the Metro Mayors’ impact since their election in 2017 and their ability to influence future prospects for greater regional prosperity. A central question is whether the time is ripe for a new, and fairer, constitutional settlement for the English regions.







Friday 16th November 0930-1900 iCentrum Holt Street, Birmingham


Hosted by IDEA Institute & Centre for Brexit Studies (CBS) Birmingham City University


To register to attend this free Conference sign up on Eventbrite, see link below


Morning Agenda


Conference Chair: Beverley Nielsen


0900 Coffee and refreshments


0930 Vice-Chancellor, Prf Philip Plowden, Birmingham City University - Welcome & Opening Comments


0935 Julia Goldsworthy, Director of Strategy, West Midlands Combined Authority Strategic Priorities and delivery


1000 Cllr Ian Ward Leader Birmingham City Council , Board Director, West Midlands Combined Authority A Stronger Voice for our English Regions


1030 Prof Matt Qvortrup, Chair of Political Science, Centre for Trust, Peace & Social Relations, Coventry University Implications for Devolved Nations and Devolution in light of Brexit


1050 Coffee and networking


1115 Panel Discussion: Chair, Kevin Johnson, Editor, The Chamberlain Files



David Hardman, CEO, Innovation Birmingham Campus
Marcus Hawley, CEO, Blackswan
David Hearne, Centre for Brexit Studies, BCU
Charlotte Horobin, EEF
Mike Leonard, CEO, Building Alliance
Dr Steve McCabe, IDEA, BCU
Vicky Pryce, Visiting Professor, BCU & Aston Universities
Tracy Westall, Non Executive Director, Department for Transport

Includes Q&A Session on Impact of Brexit and Challenges for West Midlands Economy (Also promoting new book ‘Brexit Negotiations after Article 50: Assessing Process, Progress and Impact’, Emerald Publishing)



1200 Vicky Pryce, Economist - Developing Devolution for England


1220  Lunch and networking


Afternoon Agenda What Next – Devo Post Brexit?


1250 Jack Dromey MP Birmingham Erdington - What Next for Devolution in England?

1310 Lord Andrew Adonis - Saving Britain – Delivering a fairer deal in English Regions

1340 Professor Tony Travers LSE - Financing Devolution in England

1400 Akash Paun, Senior Fellow, The Institute for Government, English devolution – an unfinished agenda?

1415 Mark Corbett, Snr Policy Adviser for the Midlands, CBI - Devolution in England – the Business View

1430 Prf Brendan Evans, University of Huddersfield & Dr Georgina Blakeley, Open University - Impact of Devolution on Economic Growth in Greater Manchester

1500 Joe Reeves, Director Corporate Affairs, Midland Heart - A bespoke housing deal for a devolved region

1515 Matthew Rhodes, Chair, Energy Research Accelerator, Local Energy Systems - The big opportunity for clean tech innovation

1530 Coffee

1550 Prf Robin Hambleton, University of West of England - Learning from sub-national governance in other countries

1615 Prf Vernon Bogdanor CBE, Professor of Government, King’s College, London -Devolution and the Constitution

1645 Q&A

1705 Closing Words - Associate Professor Beverley Nielsen, Institute for Design & Economic Acceleration, Birmingham City University

1715 Close - Coffee and Networking



Conference assessing devolution in delivering funding for jobs and quality of life

IDEA Institute, the Institute for Design & Economic Acceleration promotes the links between design-led and brand-led cultures in accelerating growth. It has worked with over 40 start-ups taking them through early growth phases to next stage business development. The institute is closely engaged with regional organisations focussed on policies supporting inclusive sustainable economic growth with recent work around construction, transport, energy, health and creative clusters, including the world renowned Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham.




The Centre for Brexit Studies (CBS) is an academic facility which supports and encourages the existing work on Brexit within Birmingham City University’s schools and faculties. It promotes rigorous engagement with the multifaceted aspects of the “Leave” and “Remain” perspectives in order to enhance understanding of the consequences of withdrawing from the EU.

The work of CBS is primarily undertaken by Birmingham City University staff and students, but also provides collaborative opportunities with interested businesses, professional organisations and civil society.



The following list outlines summary biographies in alphabetical order of the speakers taking part in our Conference on Devolution in England

Lord Andrew Adonis

Lord Andrew Adonis


Andrew Adonis is a Labour peer, and formerly transport minister, education minister and head of No 10 policy unit under Tony Blair. He has combined political roles with academia and journalism and served as chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission in 2017 whilst previously serving as interim chair from 2015 to 2017.   He most recently co-authored ‘Saving Britain – How we must change to prosper in Europe’ with Will Hutton, published 2018.






Dr Georgina Blakeley, Open University

Dr Georgina Blakeley, Director of Teaching (Politics), Open University

Dr Georgina Blakeley has a Masters from Liverpool University and a PhD from the University of Bradford.  She was Head of Politics at the University of Huddersfield prior to become a Senior Lecturer in Politics at the Open University.  She has published on various aspects of Spanish politics while also writing on issues of participation and local governance in the UK. Together with Professor Brendan Evans she has published various articles on the politics of Manchester and co-authored the book ‘The Regeneration of East Manchester: A Political Analysis’ produced by Manchester University Press in 2013.  Together with Brendan, she is currently writing a book on the Metropolitan Mayoral Combined Authorities of Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester.



Professor Vernon Bogdanor CBE, King's College London

Professor Vernon Bogdanor, CBE





VERNON BOGDANOR CBE is Professor of Government at the Institute of Contemporary British History, King’s College, London. He was formerly for many years Professor of Government at Oxford University. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, an Honorary Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences. He has been an adviser to a number of governments, including those of Albania, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Israel, Mauritius. Slovakia and Trinidad. His books include, Devolution; The People and the Party System: The Referendum and Electoral Reform in British Politics; Multi-Party Politics and the Constitution; Power and the People: A Guide to Constitutional Reform; Devolution in the United Kingdom; The New British Constitution and The Coalition and the Constitution. He is also editor of, amongst other books, The British Constitution in the 20th Century; Joined-Up Government; and From the New Jerusalem to New Labour: British Prime Ministers from Attlee to Blair. His book on the consequences of Brexit will appear in 2019. He is currently writing a multi-volume work on British political history from 1895 to 1997.


Vernon Bogdanor is a frequent contributor to TV, radio and the press.  He was a consultant for the film about Churchill, `Darkest Hour’ with Gary Oldman and the play about the Queen, `The Audience’ with Helen Mirren.


In 2008, he was awarded the Sir Isaiah Berlin Award by the Political Studies Association for Lifetime Contribution to Political Studies.  In 2009 he was made a Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur by President Sarkozy. He is an Honorary Fellow of The Queen’s College, Oxford, an Honorary D. Litt. of the University of Kent, and an Honorary Bencher of the Middle Temple.




Mark Corbett, Senior Regional Policy Adviser, CBI

Mark Corbett, Senior Regional Policy Adviser, CBI

Mark joined the CBI as Senior Regional Policy Adviser for the Midlands in March this year after a long career in the UK Civil Service. Mark has worked across a variety of policy roles including the Industrial Strategy in BEIS and UK innovation and energy policy in DECC. He attended 2017 Mission Innovation / Clean Energy Ministerial as part of the UK Delegation. Previously, Mark has worked on Higher Education policy in BIS and Labour Market policy, including the Coalition Government’s ‘Youth Contract’ in DWP.

Mark is graduate of the University of York where he studied Public Administration.



Jack Dromey MP Birmingham Erdington

Jack Dromey MP, Birmingham Erdington

Jack Dromey, well known as British Labour Party politician and trade unionist, has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Birmingham Erdington since the 2010 general election. He was formerly Deputy General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers’ Union and then Unite. Jack and was appointed Shadow Minister for Communities and Local Government in the Ed Miliband shadow front bench. He became Shadow Policing Minister in 2013, but resigned from this position on 27 June 2016. On 10 October 2016, he returned to the frontbench by becoming Shadow Minister for Labour and thereafter Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions.



Professor Brendan Evans

Prf Brendan Evans, Professor of Politics, University of Huddersfield

Brendan Evans has a degree a Masters and a PhD, all in Politics, from the University of Manchester. After a period teaching at the University of Manchester he taught at Lecturer and Principal Lecturer level before becoming Dean of School and Pro Vice-Chancellor. He was awarded an Emeritus Professorship at Huddersfield, and in partial retirement he has continued to publish. His writings cover British politics and policy-making, political ideology, education and skills policy and more recently, together with Dr. Georgina Blakeley the politics of Manchester in (Blakeley and Evans) The Regeneration of East Manchester: A Political Analysis for Manchester University Press and various journal articles. Together with Georgina, he is currently writing a book on the Metropolitan Mayoral Combined Authorities of Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester.



Julia Goldsworthy, West Midlands Combined Authority

Julia Goldsworthy, West Midlands Combined Authority


Julia Goldsworthy is Director of Strategy for the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), working to unlock the region’s full economic potential, for the benefit of everyone that lives there.


A former MP and Treasury Special Adviser in the coalition government, Julia has more than a decade of experience in developing and implementing policy across a wide range of departments and subject areas.


Operating at senior levels in Government and the UK Parliament. Before joining the WMCA, she spent three years at PwC as a senior adviser. This included developing their market approach to the devolution agenda through her understanding of the processes and spending control frameworks behind policy. This in turn supported local and Combined Authorities as they developed their delivery strategies.


Julia also chairs the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s Brexit Advisory Commission for Public Services, a group established to convene a sector-wide response to Brexit. She is also an associate of the Institute for Government, and is a trustee of homeless charity Crisis. 

Professor Robin Hambleton, University of the West of England

Professor Robin Hambleton BA MA PhD MRTPI FRSA


Robin Hambleton is Emeritus Professor of City Leadership at the University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol, Director of Urban Answers and Founding President of the European Urban Research Association (EURA).  In 2016 the Local Government Association (LGA) invited him to examine models of devolved governance in other countries and his report, English Devolution. Learning lessons from international models of sub-national governance, suggests that devolution in England can learn much from other countries where sub-national governance is more highly valued and supported.  This report is available on the LGA website: 

Robin worked in local government in the England for ten years before becoming an academic.  He has been an Adviser to UK local government ministers, to Select Committees of the UK House of Parliament, and has worked on place-based leadership with cities in many different countries. 

He has held professorial positions in City and Regional Planning at Cardiff University, in City Management at UWE, and in Urban Planning and Policy, and Public Administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  He was Dean of the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago (2002-07), and has published eleven books and over 400 articles. 

His latest book is Leading the Inclusive City. Place-based innovation for a bounded planet. (Policy Press 2015).


Marcus Hawley, CEO and founder Blackswan

Marcus Hawley, CEO, Blackswan

Marcus Hawley is the Managing Director and founder of Blackswan. His vision, expertise and love of the property industry has led Blackswan on a journey from quality consultancy to end-to-end development. Today, Blackswan are an innovative and aspirational property development company that create well designed, high quality places and communities. Marcus and Blackswan have proved that they can successfully bridge the gap between funding, design and delivery.

Marcus is a property specialist who gained experience as a Development Surveyor and Manager on innovative and creative projects including The Rotunda.

He is passionate, professional and proud of his work and always aims to help realise the true.



Linked In:


David Hearne, Centre for Brexit Studies

David Hearne, Centre for Brexit Studies, Birmingham City University


David Hearne is the Researcher for the Centre for Brexit Studies at Birmingham City University. He joined the Centre in 2017, having previously worked as an economist in a regional think tank. David’s primary research interests lie in regional economics and the sectoral and regional impact of Brexit. Ongoing research includes measurement issues within the regional economy as well as the north-south divide in Britain’s labour market.

Charlotte Horobin, Region Director - Midlands and East, EEF

Charlotte Horobin, Region Director - Midlands and East

Charlotte is responsible for managing and developing relationships with EEF member companies in the East Midlands and East of England. She works closely with these companies to make sure they gain maximum value for their membership, utilising services and support available. By working with partner organisations and regional media, Charlotte is able to raise the profile of EEF member companies locally and nationally. She’s also in charge of designing and delivering a programme of regional events enabling members to network, share best practice and learn from experts.

Before joining EEF, Charlotte worked in food manufacturing where she focused on business development and food safety management. Charlotte currently sits on the Better Business For All Group in Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.
Linked In:

Twitter: Twitter



Mike Leonard, CEO, Building Alliance

Mike Leonard, FIMS, CEO, Building Alliance

Mike has enjoyed a 38-year career in Building Products. His extensive experience includes a long period with Marley where he was responsible for Thermalite Blocks, Nottingham Brick, Marley Roof Tiles and Marley Paving. 

More recently Mike worked for Laird PLC as Managing Director of Laird Lifestyle and EWS. He also served for 13 years as a Non-Executive Director of Bristan and is the Immediate Past President of the International Masonry Society.

In 2007 Mike was invited to lead a UK wide campaign which has now reversed 10 years of decline in masonry market share. He founded and continues to run the Get Britain Building Campaign.

His strong belief in the power of collaboration resulted in the introduction of many robust initiatives such as the Futures Group, the cross-industry new homes “Think Tank” which advises Government on better regulation.

In 2015 Mike established the Building Alliance Community Interest Company, a not for profit organisation which continues to represent the masonry sector and associated products. The Building Alliance seeks to unite the diverse construction industry around the major opportunities that lie ahead including the Digital Housing Revolution, attracting young people into the industry and the wider benefits of investing in the built environment.


Dr Steve McCabe, Associate Professor, Birmingham City University

Dr Steve McCabe, Assoc. Prof. IDEA Institute, Birmingham City University

Having graduated from the University of Manchester in 1984 with a degree in management, Dr McCabe spent time in industry as a management trainee before commencing an EPSRC research-sponsored MSc in Management at Birmingham University in 1988.  Since 1989 he has been employed at Birmingham City University as a management lecturer (teaching general and human resources, as well as strategy and operations but with a special emphasis on TQM, improvement techniques and benchmarking).
As well as teaching, Steve is an active researcher and completed a Ph.D on a part-time basis at the University of Birmingham which explored the use of quality management techniques. He has written extensively on the subject of management and quality, producing numerous papers, chapters for books and three books including  on the ‘Development of value-adding business support need diagnostic: Timeliness and focus of business/management business development support’ exploring the ways small and medium-sized businesses make key decisions about future direction (strategy).  More recently he has been working on publications including ‘
Brexit Negotiations after Article 50: Assessing Process, Progress and Impact’.



Associate Professor Beverley Nielsen, IDEA Institute, Birmingham City University

Assoc Prof Beverley Nielsen, IDEA Institute, Birmingham City University

Beverley Nielsen is Associate Professor and Director at IDEA Institute, the Institute for Design & Economic Acceleration at Birmingham City University, where she has also worked for the past 10 years as Visiting Tutor, MA Design Management, Director Employer Engagement and Director Corporate Affairs. Beverley has launched a number of initiatives whilst at the university including 'Birmingham Made Me', with a focus on promoting the Midlands' manufacturing excellence along with our design and brand-led businesses. 
She has helped start up over 40 new companies involved in diverse areas including fashion, jewellery, interiors, integrated healthcare, outdoor activities, connected & autonomous vehicles, bicycle accessories and ultra light rail. She currently chairs Ultra Light Rail Partners, Outdoor Elements, and provides support to RCL Partners and Vivere Health Care Group.
Recent publications include co-authoring with Professor Michael Beverland and Vicky Pyrce, Redesigning Manufacturing, Palgrave Macmillan (2015), and co-editing Brexit Negotiations after Article 50: Assessing Process, Progress and Impact, with Professor February 2019.
Prior to this Beverley was Director of FTSE-250 business, AGA Rangemaster plc, and MD of subsidiary business, Fired Earth. She was Director of CBI West Midlands, having spent 10 years working for the CBI as a European policy advisor with a focus on the impact of Non-Tariff Barriers, Assistant Manager, CBI Bruseels, Assistant Director, CBI North West, Director Marketing, based in CBI London.  

Beverley has been recognised for her contribution to business being awarded Midlands Business Woman of the Year (1998), the Business Desk's West Midlands' Ambassador of the Year (2013), the ALL Ladies League, Woman of the Decade in Enterprise and Leadership (2018) and she was awarded an honorary Masters Degree from Coventry University (1999). Beverley is proud to have been an Associate Fellow at WMG, the University of Warwick for the past 18 years and is a Non Executive Director of ART Business Loans.

Political activities have included a period serving as County Councillor, Worcestershire County Council 2009-2013 and as the Liberal Democrat Mayoral Candidate, WMCA election 2017, which subsequently saw Andy Street elected as West Midlands Mayor.


Akash Paun, Senior Fellow, Institute for Government

Akash Paun, Senior Fellow, The Institute for Government


Akash Paun is a Senior Fellow of the Institute for Government in London, where he has worked since 2008, leading research on devolution and constitutional change. He was also an Expert Adviser to the British Academy from 2016-18 and is the co-editor of Governing England: English identity and institutions in a changing United Kingdom, which will be published by the British Academy and Oxford University Press in November 2018. Other recent publications include Four Nation Brexit: How the UK and devolved governments should work together on leaving the EU (Institute for Government, 2016) and chapters on devolution to four English regions in Governing England: devolution and mayors in England (British Academy, 2017).





Vicky Pryce, Economist

Vicky Pryce, Economist

Vicky Pryce is Chief Economic Adviser and a board member at the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). She was previously Senior Managing Director at FTI Consulting, Director General for Economics at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and Joint Head of the UK Government Economic Service. Before that she was Partner at the accounting and consulting firm KPMG after senior economic positions in banking and the oil sector. She has a number of academic posts including being Visiting Professor at BCU and is a Fellow and on the Council of the UK Academy for Social Sciences , a Fellow of the Society of Professional Economists and a Companion of the British Academy for Management. She sits on the Council of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, on the Advisory Board of the central banking think-tank OMFIF and on the Economic Advisory Group of the British Chambers of Commerce. Her recent books include: “Greekonomics: The Euro crisis and Why Politicians Don't Get It”; “It's the Economy, Stupid- Economics for Voters”, with Ross and Urwin; “Redesigning Manufacturing”, with Nielsen and Beverland and "Why Women Need Quotas”, with Stefan Stern. She is also co-founder of GoodCorporation, a company set up to promote Corporate Social Responsibility, is a Freeman and Liveryman of the City of London and now sits on the City’s Members Diversity Working Party. She is also a member of the Brexit advisory groups of TechUk and CIPFA and is a patron of Pro-Bono Economics.


Professor Matt Qvortrup, Coventry University

Matt Qvortrup is Professor of Applied Political Science and International Relations at Coventry University.


An expert in referendums, German politics and comparative government, Professor Qvortrup was awarded the PSA Prize in 2013 for his research on political institutions and policy outputs. His book Angela Merkel: Europe's Most Influential Leader was translated into Russian, Chinese and Korean. During 2015 Matt was a Specialist Advisor to the House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee.


He has previously worked as member of President Obama’s Special Envoy Team in Africa (2009-2010). Before his career as an academic Dr Qvortrup served as Head of the Gun Crime Section in the British Home Office (2002-2004) and before that as a Special Advisor to the Home Secretary (Minister for the Interior) Professor Qvortrup earned his doctorate in Politics at Brasenose College, University of Oxford in 2000. Also a qualified lawyer, he holds a Diploma from the College of Law, London.


A frequent commentator for the BBC, Professor Qvortrup is also a regular contributor to Philosophy Now.

Joe Reeves, Director of Corporate Affairs, Midland Heart

Joe Reeves, Director Corporate Affairs, Midland Heart

Joe is responsible for delivering the organisation’s growth strategy, and has recently expanded his portfolio to include housing development, which will see him responsible for the delivery of Midland Heart’s plan to build around 2350 homes for social and affordable rent over five years.

His current role also includes responsibility for our Finance team.

Prior to joining Midland Heart in July 2013, Joe spent fifteen years with leading management consultancy, PwC working in the Corporate Finance Infrastructure and Government team.  

As a Director, Joe acted as a commercial adviser on major economic and social infrastructure PPP projects for local government across the UK with a combined value of £1.5bn. Joe is acknowledged for his work on housing PPP and Housing Revenue Account reform, having co-authored a number of thought leadership publications.


Matthew Rhodes, Chair, Energy Capital

Matthew Rhodes, Chair, Energy Capital

Matthew Rhodes chairs Energy Capital in the West Midlands (covering the three cities of Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton).


Energy Capital is the policy and delivery body for energy reporting to the Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street. Matthew has worked at the innovative edge of the energy sector for 25 years, and for companies including RWE, BP and Amerada Hess.


For 14 years he ran his own specialist engineering consultancy in distributed, smart and low carbon energy systems and buildings, based in the West Midlands and working internationally for clients ranging from the US Department of Energy to cities and local authorities across the UK. He sold this business in 2017, and agreed to work for the Mayor and West Midlands local authorities to establish an effective strategic energy infrastructure planning and commissioning capability for the region during 2018-19.


Matthew is also a Board member of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, responsible for innovation. He holds a variety of other non-executive positions, including acting as an independent expert for both the UK and EU in allocating funding for R&D projects. Before becoming embedded in the energy sector, Matthew worked internationally in manufacturing and management consultancy for companies including Unilever and PA Consulting Group. He originally trained in engineering, economics and management at Oxford and in environmental policy at Cambridge.

Professor Tony Travers, LSE

Prf Tony Travers, London School of Economics & Political Science

Tony Travers is Director of the Institute of Public Affairs at the London School of Economics & Political Science.  He is also a professor in the LSE’s Government Department and co-director of LSE London.  Research interests include public finance, urban politics and London government.  He has been an advisor to a number of UK Parliamentary committees. 

He was a Senior Associate of the Kings Fund from 1999 to 2004, and also a member of the Arts Council’s Touring Panel during the late 1990s.  From 1992 to 1997, he was a member of the Audit Commission.   He was a member of the Urban Task Force Working Group on Finance.

He is a research board member of the Centre for Cities and a board member of the New Local Government Network. He is an Honorary Member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy.  He chaired the London Finance Commission (2012-13 and again in 2016-17) and was a member of the City Growth Commission (2013-14).

He recently chaired an independent commission examining local government finance in Wales and the London Finance Commission (2014 and 2017).  He is co-chair of the King’s Commission on London.   

He has published a number of books on cities and government, including Failure in British Government The Politics of the Poll Tax (with David Butler and Andrew Adonis), Paying for Health, Education and Housing   How does the Centre Pull the Purse Strings (with Howard Glennerster and John Hills) and The Politics of London: Governing the Ungovernable City.  Most recently, he published London’s Boroughs at 50.


Cllr Ian Ward, Leader, Birmingham City Council, Board Member, West Midlands Combined Authority

Cllr Ian Ward, Leader Birmingham City Council and Board Member WMCA

Birmingham City Council Leader, Councillor Ian Ward, has been a Councillor since 1995. He served as Deputy Leader of the Labour Group from 2005-2017 and was Deputy Leader of the Council from 2012 until 2017 when he was elected Leader.

In this time he has had political responsibility for many areas including budgets and finance, land and property, arts and culture and development.

Keen to promote Birmingham’s sporting profile, he spearheaded the successful 2022 Commonwealth Games bid, having already helped bring a number of high profile international sporting events to the city.

Ian has participated in many partnerships and boards during his varied political career ranging from Birmingham Royal Ballet and West Midlands Arts Council to the West Midland Combined Authority and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership.

He is currently Chair of the Eurocities Culture Forum, taking a keen interest in promoting and strengthening Birmingham's European and international ties.


Tracy Westall, Department for Transport

Tracy Westall


Tracy is an experienced Executive & Non Executive Director, having operated in the Digital and Technology sector for over 30 years. With a background in Sales and Business Development, Tracy was the Board Executive responsible for establishing and running a successful £350m Public Sector business within Europe’s largest private tech business, SCC PLC.


Latterly as their Director of Corporate Services responsible for a broad range of business functions such as Procurement, Marketing, Partner & Alliances, and Support Services, she was recognised by CRN as one of the Top 50 influential Women in the IT Channel in 2016.


Passionate about technology innovation, she spent three years as Non Executive Director for Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP responsible for Stimulating Innovation in the West Midlands. She was also a member of the Smart City Commission, Birmingham Science City Board, Birmingham Smart City Alliance and initiated the Digital Leaders West Midlands programme. During this time the region secured its devolution deal with government and Tracy is an active player in ensuring that the region has a strong tech an digital voice.


She has been a Governor at Birmingham City University since 2016 and is on the Advisory Board for Innovation Birmingham, a tech digital incubator.


In 2017 she joined Board as a NED for the Department for Transport with a focus on digital as Transport undergoes major technological changes. In 2018 she was invited to join the Advisory Board for The Future of Urban Mobility as part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Grand Challenge.


Having spent several years as a Main Board Director of Tech UK, the trade body for the tech sector in the UK, she is passionate and positive about the role that tech can play in the growth and skills agenda for the UK economy and addressing the need to get more women into the sector. She is now working with Tech UK to bring a regional offering so the sector is truly represented nationally.


She is supporting the local diversity and skills agenda through her work with the Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street on the West Midlands Digital Advisory Board and supporting Digital Innov8ersa aimed at practical skills for 16 year old and above who would not normally follow a HE educational route.


She has been recognized as Digital Leaders Local Champion for the West Midlands in 2018. She is committed to championing diversity in the Boardroom. She has been a regular participant of the judging panel for Business Woman of the Year and Birmingham Young Professional of the Year. She was a guest blogger for DWP’s Women in Digital initiative promoting the need to get senior women into leadership and mentors as part of their digital leadership programme Including their Digital Voices pilot. She has recently joined the London Business School Women in Business mentoring programme.


She now runs her own advisory business working with owner led, scale up businesses across the UK.