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By Mark Smulian ...
By Mark Smulian

Birmingham City Council has named the first four directors who will head local offices under its radical devolution plan.

Control of most services will pass to 11 areas, based on parliamentary constituency boundaries, next year.

Councillors for the wards concerned will run each local committee, meaning different areas may have different political control.

Only education, social services, resources and regeneration would ultimately remain centralised.

Ifor Jones, head of community involvement at Dacorum BC, will head up the Northfield office. Rob James, Birmingham's head of waste management, takes the Hodge Hill job.

The Ladywood office will be headed by Jacqueline Branch, director of strategy and review at Redditch BC, while Jan Kimber, community safety co-ordinator at Suffolk CC, has been appointed to the Perry Bar office.

Mr Jones worked at Tower Hamlets LBC in the late 1980s when that council's management was devolved to seven neighbourhoods.

He said: 'I learned a lot in Tower Hamlets where I worked in an estate-based housing office.

'There were problems with economies of scale, but the way you could work closely with tenants never left me.'

Mr Jones explained the constituency would control services either directly or through service level agreements with contractors.

'In Dacorum I can find out what the community wants, but it is frustrating I can't influence services,' he said. 'In Birmingham I will be able to make changes.'

Northfield and Hodge Hill will pilot the development of community housing organisations to take over council homes.

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