The city of Birmingham, the people who work there and those who call it home, have been urged to come up with one truly inspirational idea that would re-invent it in the eyes of the world.

The call came from Sir Michael Lyons, former city council chief executive, during a speech at an event organised by Birmingham Forward.

According to Sir Michael, the city’s public and private sectors need to start showing more inspired leadership.

There is also a pressing need for these sectors to work together more productively in order to develop a “robust and distinctive vision” for the future, he told an audience made up of the city’s movers and shakers (

In many respects he is stating the obvious. But then given the people he was addressing directly during the speech he needed to keep it simple.

After all, most of these movers and shakers have singularly failed to make the sort of impression Sir Michael is calling for over the last decade or so.

What would be far more interesting to discover is the views of those who weren’t invited to hear Sir Michael, or who simply chose to spend their evening more productively engaged. These are the people who will offer the truly inspired ideas, enthusiasm and dedication required to take Birmingham forward and create the positive global image the city deserves.

Compare Birmingham Forward ( with the only slightly more irreverent but arguably more relevant website It would be interesting to hear from those who live and work in Birmingham which provides the better insight into the city.

What is the big idea to take Birmingham forward?

How about stop the endless navel-gazing and meaningless talking shops?

Instead of displaying that very large chip on the city’s shoulder, Birmingham should have the self-confidence to stand up and shout out loud to whoever is willing to hear.

Those who bleat on about the “tussle” to become officially known as the UK’s second city, the indignation they feel towards those upstarts in Manchester in trying to steal the mantle, are missing a very large and crucial point.

If Manchester wants to be viewed as second best then let it. No-one will realistically compete with London, so why bother trying and why bother being happy to play second fiddle?

Munich doesn’t regard itself as Germany’s second city. Barcelona will never defer to the Spanish capital. Yet both are truly international cities and possess exactly the type of global image that Birmingham craves.

Birmingham can learn an important lesson from such an attitude. The best ideas are often the most simple and easy to achieve.

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