Dudley leader in hot water with Black Country folk after claiming a Greater Birmingham authority is inevitable

Dudley News: Dudley leader David Sparks has upset Black Country folk with his views on a giant West Midlands authority Dudley leader David Sparks has upset Black Country folk with his views on a giant West Midlands authority

DUDLEY’S leader is in hot water with Black Country folk after flying the flag for a merger with Birmingham .

Cllr David Sparks told the BBC a Greater Birmingham authority, including Dudley, was both inevitable and desirable.

The remarks ignited a storm of protest at the start of a month of events to mark the first Black Country Day on Monday July 14.

The man behind the celebrations hit out, saying Cllr Sparks should “get out more” and listen to people.

Black Country Festival organiser, Garry Sawers, said: “We are not going to be swallowed up by Brum, it is a very big insult. What David Sparks needs to do is talk to the people and then he needs to listen.”

The month-long festival got under way last weekend and Mr Sawyers, who is also known as singer Black Country Gaz, says the public’s response shows people are proud of their roots.

Mr Sawyers said: “It’s about celebrating our heritage and pride, we don’t want to be called brummies. He has totally misread the situation.

“How about going for a Black Country council taking in the four boroughs?”

Cllr Sparks’ comments, which have been branded offensive on the official Black Country Day Twitter website, were broadcast on July 6.

He said: “It is inevitable and desirable, In the West Midlands if we don’t have organisations similar to Greater Manchester we will suffer. We will suffer internationally because we are in global competition.

“Individual local authorities cannot deliver all their services within their boundaries any more.”

In response to complaints about his remarks, Cllr Sparks added: “In Dudley we have backed the Black Country Day celebrations more than anyone and I have personally been involved in ensuring we fly the flag from the town hall to declare Dudley as the capital of the Black Country.

“We fully support the Black Country celebrating its own identity and this is why we have been so involved in celebrating the region through a Black Country Festival taking place throughout this month.

"On a completely separate issue, in order to ensure Dudley and all parts of the Black Country gets its fair share of national funding as we move forward, the concept of city regions and working in partnership with our neighbouring authorities in the West Midlands region cannot be ignored as working together will potentially bring significant economic benefits to all of our communities."

Comments (6)

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6:45pm Tue 8 Jul 14

Sam Vimes says...

Why not merge with Brum? We can then enjoy their region leading expertise in child protection, schools, green waste collection and financial management.
Why not merge with Brum? We can then enjoy their region leading expertise in child protection, schools, green waste collection and financial management. Sam Vimes
  • Score: -8

11:20pm Tue 8 Jul 14

Nethertonian says...

It might actually help if people understand the issue here and not go into hysterics. David Sparks is absolutely right. This is NOT ANY MERGER. It would be simply a collaboration of neighbouring authorities, to promote and market the region as a whole and work together in improving transport, infrastructure, business investment and jobs prospects.
This collaborative working is already in place in five other City Regions in England. The areas around Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield have ALREADY formed their own Combinec Authorities. They 'get it' and are already leaving forging ahead of our own region.
As a Black Country man, I say to all of you, the following: We would all STILL live in the Black Country. Our addresses WILL NOT change. NOTHING will be different. A combined authority is really a 'no brainer'. It has to happen and has to happen quickly.
We also should really grow up and accept that we do live in the Birmingham metropolis. Black Country, of course and very proud of it, but part of the Birmingham metropolis. We really do need to grow up on this one. It's not anything like what you clearly think.
It might actually help if people understand the issue here and not go into hysterics. David Sparks is absolutely right. This is NOT ANY MERGER. It would be simply a collaboration of neighbouring authorities, to promote and market the region as a whole and work together in improving transport, infrastructure, business investment and jobs prospects. This collaborative working is already in place in five other City Regions in England. The areas around Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield have ALREADY formed their own Combinec Authorities. They 'get it' and are already leaving forging ahead of our own region. As a Black Country man, I say to all of you, the following: We would all STILL live in the Black Country. Our addresses WILL NOT change. NOTHING will be different. A combined authority is really a 'no brainer'. It has to happen and has to happen quickly. We also should really grow up and accept that we do live in the Birmingham metropolis. Black Country, of course and very proud of it, but part of the Birmingham metropolis. We really do need to grow up on this one. It's not anything like what you clearly think. Nethertonian
  • Score: -6

4:15pm Wed 9 Jul 14

deanperks@live.com says...

Rubbish.
A greater Birmingham which is the ultimate goal here would include Sandwell and all but guarantee Labour rule for the foreseeable.
Its political.
If the intention was to share services he would not have used the word "authority".
It's not about address and we will ALWAYS be the Black Country (until the PC brigade go completely bonkers) but I want elected members from Dudley running Dudley not elected members from Birmingham.

It's like a mini EU/UK scinareo.
This is not about Birmingham but about Dudley and if he gives it the old you misunderstood me it's clear he's testing the water.
Rubbish. A greater Birmingham which is the ultimate goal here would include Sandwell and all but guarantee Labour rule for the foreseeable. Its political. If the intention was to share services he would not have used the word "authority". It's not about address and we will ALWAYS be the Black Country (until the PC brigade go completely bonkers) but I want elected members from Dudley running Dudley not elected members from Birmingham. It's like a mini EU/UK scinareo. This is not about Birmingham but about Dudley and if he gives it the old you misunderstood me it's clear he's testing the water. deanperks@live.com
  • Score: -1

10:11pm Wed 9 Jul 14

carl66 says...

People need to stop being so tribal and inwards looking, the area needs to compete with the rest of the country let along the rest of the world. People outside of the area already see the whole of the West Midlands as Birmingham anyway, it needs to be made official.
People need to stop being so tribal and inwards looking, the area needs to compete with the rest of the country let along the rest of the world. People outside of the area already see the whole of the West Midlands as Birmingham anyway, it needs to be made official. carl66
  • Score: 0

2:06pm Sun 13 Jul 14

Sam Vimes says...

deanperks@live.com wrote:
Rubbish.
A greater Birmingham which is the ultimate goal here would include Sandwell and all but guarantee Labour rule for the foreseeable.
Its political.
If the intention was to share services he would not have used the word "authority".
It's not about address and we will ALWAYS be the Black Country (until the PC brigade go completely bonkers) but I want elected members from Dudley running Dudley not elected members from Birmingham.

It's like a mini EU/UK scinareo.
This is not about Birmingham but about Dudley and if he gives it the old you misunderstood me it's clear he's testing the water.
The mini EU/UK scenario is how I read it too. Its contradictory to be against EU control but promote the same structure greater Birmingham/dudley.

Incidentally, I should say many people didn't understand my first comment judging by the negative scoring. Funny really
[quote][p][bold]deanperks@live.com[/bold] wrote: Rubbish. A greater Birmingham which is the ultimate goal here would include Sandwell and all but guarantee Labour rule for the foreseeable. Its political. If the intention was to share services he would not have used the word "authority". It's not about address and we will ALWAYS be the Black Country (until the PC brigade go completely bonkers) but I want elected members from Dudley running Dudley not elected members from Birmingham. It's like a mini EU/UK scinareo. This is not about Birmingham but about Dudley and if he gives it the old you misunderstood me it's clear he's testing the water.[/p][/quote]The mini EU/UK scenario is how I read it too. Its contradictory to be against EU control but promote the same structure greater Birmingham/dudley. Incidentally, I should say many people didn't understand my first comment judging by the negative scoring. Funny really Sam Vimes
  • Score: -4

5:13pm Sun 13 Jul 14

Nethertonian says...

I noticed that the irony was lost too. It seems to possibly say something about those who oppose a Combined Authority? (It's already clear that they don't understand what it is).
I noticed that the irony was lost too. It seems to possibly say something about those who oppose a Combined Authority? (It's already clear that they don't understand what it is). Nethertonian
  • Score: 3
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