Black Country dubbed 'Greater Birmingham' to lure investors at Cannes event

Council bosses and business leaders from the Black Country will try to drum up billions of pounds of investment under the banner of ‘Greater Birmingham’ this week.

Councillors and business leaders from the Black Country are travelling to Cannes as part of the Greater Birmingham team
Councillors and business leaders from the Black Country are travelling to Cannes as part of the Greater Birmingham team

They will travel to the luxury French Riviera resort town of Cannes to try and win billions of pounds in funding from the world’s biggest investors event, MIPIM.

The Midlands will have one of the biggest exhibitions with a 200 square metre pavilion at the event with £14 billion worth of projects.

On the website for the Midlands delegation it described Birmingham, the Black Country and Solihull as ‘Greater Birmingham’.

But it appears to have been removed after an approach by the Express & Star.

The term ‘Greater Birmingham’ has long been controversial in the Black Country which fears its identity and heritage will be damaged by the blanket name.

It was a central dispute during the creation of the West Midlands Combined Authority – the new layer of local government that covers the Black Country, Birmingham, Solihull, and Coventry.

Some business leaders in the second city had called for it to be named ‘Greater Birmingham’ saying it would be easier for foreign investors to locate.

Tim Johnson, strategic director for place at Wolverhampton council
Tim Johnson, strategic director for place at Wolverhampton council

Tim Johnson, Wolverhampton council’s strategic director of place, is representing the city and Black Country authorities within the Greater Birmingham team at MIPIM this week.

He said: “For the first time 10 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) across the wider Midlands area are collaborating in a single UK Midlands approach, with full backing from the UK government.

“The Greater Birmingham team are not representing the West Midlands Combined Authority. Coventry and Warwickshire, while part of the UK Midlands delegation, are at MIPIM in their own rights.

“The Greater Birmingham approach has been successfully adopted for the last three years at MIPIM and there has been a positive reaction from the target audience of global investors and developers.”

But Walsall Council’s Conservative opposition leader councillor Mike Bird said: “We thought the name Greater Birmingham was long dead. But it seems it has reared its ugly head again. We don’t want it.”

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Comments for: "Black Country dubbed 'Greater Birmingham' to lure investors at Cannes event"


I don't want it even if it brings in more investment and jobs, I'd rather be unemployed than be known as "Greater Birmingham"!


FFS. Stop being so pathetic and get a life.


With that attitude no doubt you will be..


Never mind Cannes, let's start with Debenhams. Whilst I like the vision of visiting Cannes for major investment, we need to see past retail. Wolverhampton Council have spent enough trying to get Debenhams in town... here's a reminder...

Please think of a new plan for Wolverhampton City Centre. If you do get funding, let's try to get past competing with a Merry Hill and Birmingham and get our own Unique Selling Point. Retail is not the future.


I have said from the first announcement that we were being betrayed by our councillors and that we would become part of 'greater birmingham'. Now we see the reality.


My thoughts exactly. It was always going to become Greater Birmingham no matter how the WMCA people tried to dress it up!


Good god, do you live in the real world?


If betrayal brings investment then great, keep betraying. However, the likelihood of worthwhile inward investment is minimal at the moment. If the terms of Brexit are sorted out cleanly in the next few years then it may be worth revisiting but otherwise forget it. this area doesn't have the skills to attract investment in high technology and jobs in finance tend to be nearer London. Once the big banks decamp to Paris or Frankfurt then even finance jobs will begin to evaporate.

Ye Olde South Bank

Predictable betrayal and the first step in our identity loss. What a sad day.

Clearly, this mob don't appreciate the fierce independence and non-association with Birmingham felt by those living in the City of Wolverhampton and surrounding boroughs. More accurately and poignantly, they don't give a fig.

Give it a few years, and we'll see existing boundary signs removed and new ones take their place as everything between Wolverhampton and Coventry (including those cities) is absorbed into 'mega-city' Birmingham. I guess it's one way to treat its inferiority complex where London and Manchester are concerned.


Forward to mediocracy and non importance comrades!


The Black Country- fiercely proud to be independently unemployed!


Petty parochialism at its worst. Get a grip people, this is not the beginning of the end of the Black Country. This is an international fair, names such as Walsall or the Black Country are not going to mean anything to a potential investor from overseas. The name Birmingham does, and to say you are from the Greater Birmingham region - i.e. near Birmingham - is simply stating a fact. It's not big bad Birmingham swallowing up the Black Country, it does not mean the abolition of historic names and boundaries. It's a cross-boundary delegation working to attract investment, and people are seriously suggesting we should jeapordise that by insisting on being called by a name that most people outside of the UK have never heard of and care for even less? Give me strength.


Stop being so REASONABLE!


It is possible that the black country towns could retain their identity yet still benefit from their proximity to Birmingham.

DJ Hughes

Why does the city of Wolverhampton always have to hang onto the coat tails of other places such as Birmingham and the Black Country? Wolverhampton should be competing against the likes of Birmingham as a lower cost alternative to Birmingham with great potential and transport links to the rest of the country. Attending investment events under the name of Greater Birmingham is a way of saying to investors that Birmingham is much bigger than they expected it to be and therefore why not put more investment in...Birmingham. The video on the E&S website today showing the transformation of Birmingham shows that the Greater Birmingham strategy is doing...for Birmingham.


Jeez what is wrong with some people? This is the third year of us exhibiting as Greater Birmingham and not only has it been successful but it's taken the E & S to even bring your attention to it. That's the negative effect it's had - nothing. The sky hasn't fallen in and it is bringing investment into the Black Country.

Get a grip please. Are we really THAT stupid as to protest at this? We are in Greater Birmingham and it is silly and churlish to deny it.


Take a look round the city centre of Birmingham, then round the 'city' centre of Wolverhampton. There's only one brand worth building to the outside world and it sure isn't the Black Country. 'Greater Birmingham' tells an investor and their potential tenants/clients that they're coming to somewhere with the ICC, Grand Central, the HS2 terminal, the NIA, the NEC, - maybe they can't quite afford central prices but this site in West Brom, just 15 minutes by tram ... that is the pitch. Or imagine yourself on a stand in Cannes and asked where the Black Country is. You're not going to say 'About 80 miles south of Manchester' are you. We are in Greater Birmingham for the purpose of attracting major foreign investors, it's just pointless to deny it.


They could call Wolverhampton 'The City of Gold' for all I care, my concerns lie with where the regeneration team/ investors choose to Invest...... unfortunately, I have very little trust based on the fact money is constantly ploughed into the town centre and retail instead of our beautiful parks, museums and art galleries


Given the proportion of the population of the County of the West Midlands that lives in Birmingham compared to the Black Country how about Greater Than Birmingham?

In Sandwell we are being presented with the fait accompli of losing much of our hospital services that are to be transferred to the Midlands Metropolitan Hospital on the Birmingham border.

We have waited for 12 years for the promised Walsall to Stourbridge Metro #2 line to see it continually deferred while the service in and beyond Birmingham continues to be extended.

It now seems that the planned "cooperation" between the three providers of clinical mental health services in the Black Country and Birmingham may result in the closure of inpatient facilities in the Black Country to be replaced with a new facility in Birmingham.

We are purportedly being pushed into the new regional authority to achieve the economies of scale and improved clout internationally - am I paranoid in believing that the result will be the continuing transfer of resources and facilities from the Black Country to Birmingham?

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