Engineering home made growth requires more focus on business at home says Lib Dem Metro Mayor Candidate Beverley Nielsen

Speaking about the Country Garden agreement signed by Cllr John Clancy, Leader Birmingham City Council, last week, Beverley Nielsen, said: "Councillor John Clancy, Leader, Birmingham City Council, looks to have signed a significant agreement with Chinese developers, Country Garden last week. I applaud the fact that he’s tackling the pressing need for more homes. But I have to ask why we can’t meet this need from within our own business base? Or at the very least have the discussion with them in the first instance."

"Whilst we don’t know the terms of the deal, we should, initially, be exploring opportunities to invest at home, making the best of our quality UK manufactured products and materials, whilst building future skills and vitally jobs for young people."

“Long term deals financed by our public sector (our own taxes), recycled into our own infrastructure requirements – transport, homes, hospitals, education – are all aspects of our own regional economic need that we can predict and plan for. We can aim as far as possible to ensure that these are ‘home made’, investing in our own home grown success which in turn will yield greater results for our residents and region – new jobs, new opportunities and new investment.”

Councillor Jon Hunt, speaking about the deal said: "There are significant questions about the Country Garden deal. Whilst I hope it may be beneficial, it is regrettable it has apparently been signed in conditions of secrecy and that it does not appear to have been matched by further deals with Chinese companies who could boost manufacturing and exports from the city."

Mike Leonard, CEO, Building Alliance, said that whilst we don’t know the terms of the Country Garden deal, we should, initially, be exploring opportunities to invest at home, making the best of our quality UK manufactured products and materials, whilst building future skills.

Speaking about the agreement he said: “What we face post-Brexit is the opportunity of building the West Midlands and UK plc as a strong stand-alone economy. To do this we need to make long term strategic decisions to build our competitiveness. “Birmingham City Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority should be getting behind building up our skills and productive base to develop capacity for the next 30 years, not taking knee-jerk reactions to the massive opportunities which lie ahead for us. “The construction industry can provide the jobs in spades and we need to have this conversation now, (ideally yesterday), building quality applied apprenticeships, knowledge transfer, applied degrees, applied R&D to secure the built environment and quality of place we need for the future.”