If you’ve been wondering how I’m continuing to find quangos to add to this seemingly endless list (and believe me, there are plenty more where these came from…) then I just invite you to type ‘West Midlands’ in to Google.
When you’ve scrolled through several pages of West Midlands quangos (and there are several), do remember there are many more who’ve chosen not to adopt ‘West Midlands’ in their title, preferring some trendy name or ‘clever’ acronym. And then of course there are the ones specific to certain areas within the West Midlands; Film Birmingham, Renew North Staffordshire, Transforming Telford. The list goes on.
This week however, it’s time to focus on the mother quango, responsible for many other money-wasting and uneccessary projects in our region – it’s local Regional Development Agency, Advantage West Midlands.
Nick Paul became Chairman of Advantage West Midlands in December 2002 and was reappointed to the post for a second term, running until December 2008. And then the position will be up for grabs. The vultures are circling and at £80k-per-year for three days a week it’s not difficult to see why…
Formerly Chairman of the West Midlands CBI and a member of the CBI Manufacturing Council, Nick was Deputy Chief Executive of international engineering group IMI Plc until the end of 2001 after 24 years with the company.
From April 2005, Nick was the Chairman of the MG Rover Task Force, the group set up by the Department of Trade and Industry to co-ordinate the response to the closure of the Longbridge plant. In the 12 months of its existence, the Task Force was successful in finding jobs for 4,000 of the 5,800 workers who lost their job in the collapse, a rate of more than 100 per week.
Nick is currently Chairman of Tricorn Group Plc - a group of companies that develop and manufacture products and services for the environmental engineering sector – and is a non-executive director of Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) Plc.
Married with four children and three grand-children, Nick is a former Chairman of the Arts and Business in the West Midlands, a Governor at the City Technology College in Kingshurst and the Chair of Governors at the Downs School, Colwall, Malvern.
Cllr Richard Hyde
A businessman and politician, Richard Hyde represents Stratford-upon-Avon on Warwickshire County Council. The local authority representative on the Advantage West Midlands Board, Richard was appointed as Deputy Chairman in November 2006.
Richard is also Chief Executive of DIY and industrial consumables distributor Brian Hyde Ltd which was named West Midland’s SME of year for 2003.
He is Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group on the West Midlands Local Government Association, Chairman of the West Midlands Regional Observatory (soon to be featured here...) and Chair of the West Midlands Broadband Company.
Richard is a council member of the West Midlands CBI, the West Midlands Business Council and a trustee of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
A scientist by background, Dr David Brown is Chief Executive of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, the Rugby-based international organisation for chemical, biochemical and process engineering professionals.
Until 2006 he was Head of Technology and Innovation Management at the consulting firm Arthur D. Little Ltd. David devised the concept of regional Science and Industry Councils and he has worked professionally in all of the English regions, principally on science, innovation and enterprise, as well as for companies and Government bodies in the UK and around the world.
David held a series of R&D and management positions at ICI Plc and is an Associate Fellow at Warwick Business School as well as a member of the West Midlands Innovation and Technology Council, the Central Technology Belt, West Midlands in Europe, and the Centre for Sustainable Engineering.
Jas Bains has spent his career in a variety of roles in local government and housing associations. Appointed Chief Executive in 2003 he has successfully helped transform Ashram Housing Association into a national award winning organisation.
He is a founder member of the Wolverhampton India Trade Partnership.
He has held a number of non-executive board positions in the charities and public sector.
Brendan Connor (look out for Brendan...he's also on the West Midlands Police Authority!)
Brendan Connor is Chairman of CENEX, the Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell Technology based at Loughborough University.
Educated at Leeds and Bradford Universities Brendan later served in the Royal Navy before holding civil service appointments in UKAEA and ACAS and then joining the Engineering Employers Federation.
He joined Lucas Aerospace in Solihull as Personnel Director in 1987 before joining TRW as Managing Director of the Electric Steering Division. In 2001 he was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Cosworth Racing in Northampton.
Brendan is Chairman of Governors of the Coventry School Foundation, Trustee of the Royal Air Force Museum, an Independant Member of the West Midlands Police Authority, a non-executive Director of Coventry and Warwickshire Hospitals NHS Trust and a Non-Executive Director of Motorsport Development UK.
Gerard Coyne is the Trade Union representative on the Board of Advantage West Midlands and has been regional secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union since May 2001.
A graduate of the University of Birmingham, he has worked for the TGWU for 18 years in research and industrial roles, representing 138,000 members across both the private and public sectors.
As Chair of the West Midlands Trade Union Congress, Gerard has taken an active role in pursuing the lifelong learning agenda on behalf of trade union members.
He was elected as a Labour representative for the Longbridge ward in 1995 and served for seven year on Birmingham City Council, during which time he chaired the economic development and regeneration committees.
John Crabtree OBE
John Crabtree is a former senior partner of Birmingham law firm Wragge & Co, and now acts as a consultant to the company.
John is the Chairman of regional business exchange Investbx and sits on the Enterprise Board.
In addition, John holds a number of Chairmanships including Metalrax Group Plc, SLR Holdings Ltd, Claimar Care Group Plc and Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust.
He is also a Non-Executive Director of Staffline Recruitment Plc and President of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He has collected several awards in recent years including UK Lawyer of the Year in 2003, Birmingham Law Society Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003 and Variety Club Midlands Businessman of the Year in 2004.
Cllr Roger Lawrence
A local authority appointment to the Advantage West Midlands Board, cllr Roger Lawrence has been leader of Wolverhampton City Council since 2002.
Roger has lived in Wolverhampton since 1976 and is a Labour councillor for St Peter’s ward. He is a member of the West Midlands Regional Assembly and is currently acting as Transport Champion for the seven West Midlands' district leaders.
He is also a Sustainability Champion responsible for the delivery of Advantage West Midlands’ Sustainable Development Action Plan.
Additionally, Roger sits on Board of the Arc of Opportunity and was previously Chair of the West Midlands Local Government Association (WMLGA) and Chair of the Regional Planning Forum.
Angela Maxwell achieved prominence as one of the region's most dynamic entrepreneurs as Commercial Director of Fracino, the UK's only manufacturer of espresso and cappuccino coffee machines.
Angela was honoured by the Queen in 2007 at Buckingham Palace, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to UK trade and industry. She is a former European adviser to UK Trade & Investment and a regional ambassador for the Women's Enterprise Network.
Angela heads Acuwomen which is the UK's first company to bring an all-women group of entrepreneurs under one roof.
Michael Oakes is the rural representative on the Board of Advantage West Midlands and is a dairy farmer from Worcestershire.
Michael has extensive involvement in the NFU, serving as the Worcestershire delegate for the NFU National Council and having previously been Chairman of the Worcestershire NFU and the West Midlands Board.
Michael is Chairman and founder member of the Worcestershire Rural Hub Ltd and sits on the Board of Dairy Farmers of Britain, the UK's leading farmer-owned dairy co-operative.
Additionally, Michael sits on the Board of the Rural Regeneration Zone and the Rural Affairs Forum.
Sue Prince and her husband Terry run Beechenhill Farm, an organic dairy farm in Ilam, which provides bed and breakfast and award-winning self catering and wheelchair-accessible cottages. She is also Project Consultant to the Foods from the Peak District project, which includes a group of independent producers.
Sue is an artist and book illustrator creating ‘organic’ art works celebrating country life. She also sits on the Peak District National Park Authority, the National Trust Estates Panel and the North Staffordshire Regeneration Zone (hmm...).
As a Sustainability Champion on the Board, Sue works to encourage and support sustainable, collaborative and rural business developments and was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to farming and tourism in the Midlands.
Cllr Diane Rayner
A member of Worcestershire County Council since 1993, Diane Rayner was previously leader of Malvern Hills District Council and is Chair of the Hereford and Worcester Social Enterprise Board.
A local authority appointment to the Advantage West Midlands Board, Diane is from a small business background and has run two businesses of her own with experience of across the UK, Europe and the Caribbean. Until retirement, Diane was Policy Development Officer for the West Midlands for the Federation of Small Businesses.
She is a Diversity Champion on the Board of Advantage West Midlands with particular interest in social enterprise, economic inclusion and the voluntary and community sectors.
David Smith is Finance and Business Strategy Director for Ford Europe and Premier Automotive Group.
He is also Chairman of the British Motor Industry Trust Ltd, a regional CBI Councillor and Chair of the Audit Comittee.
Before his current appointment, David was Chief Financial Officer of Jaguar Land Rover. David has held numerous positions within Ford Finance since he joined Ford in 1983 and worked in new and emerging markets, and was based in Switzerland, the United States and Turkey before returning to the UK in July 2000.
Born in Solihull, David holds an MA in Economics from Cambridge University and an MBA from Warwick University.
As a Sustainability Champion on the Board, David works to encourage and support sustainable, collaborative and business developments.
Professor Michael Sterling
The higher education representative on the Advantage West Midlands Board, Professor Michael Sterling was appointed Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Birmingham in October 2001.
He began his career as an electrical engineer in 1964 joining AEI (later GEC) as a student apprentice with a scholarship to the University of Sheffield to read electronic and electrical engineering, graduating with a 1st class Honours degree and subsequently a PhD in computer control in 1971.
He then joined Sheffield as a lecturer and was promoted to senior lecturer in 1978 before moving to the University of Durham as Professor of Engineering in 1980 and being appointed as Vice-Chancellor of Brunel University in 1990.
Michael is a member of the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology and Chairman of its energy sub-group.
Cllr Kenneth Taylor
A local authority appointment to the Advantage West Midlands Board, Ken Taylor became Leader of Coventry City Council in June 2004 having served as councillor for the Earlsdon ward for 18 years and Leader of the Conservative group in Coventry since 2003.
Ken has lived in Coventry since 1972, working for a number of multi-national companies such as Nestle and ICI in sales management positions.
He has held a number of key positions during his time in public service, including Director of Whitefriars Housing Association, governor at two Coventry schools, member of the West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority and, in 2002-03, Lord Mayor of Coventry. Ken is also a member of the Board of Coventry and Nuneaton Regeneration Zone.
Advantage West Midlands has been responsible for some unforgivable profligate spending, including £118k for a one day conference and £3.6M for a barely-used internet TV channel - all over seen by these people. All unelected, all unaccountable, all responsible for big decisions regarding considerable amounts of money and many wielding power in other quangos too.
Do we really want to be governed by a select clique of people who we didn't choose, don't know, and can't get rid of?