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The gags are out and it's about time for witty Whitby.

Byline: john bright

Much amusement at a recent City Region board meeting.

Due to start at 9.30am it is packed with councillors and officials, bods from Advantage West Midlands and business representatives.

No sign of Birmingham City Council leader Mike Whitby, who chairs it.

He arrives five minutes later and declares to all and sundry that here is a local authority which spends billions of pounds and still can't get any of the clocks in the Council House to work properly.

Bafflement. What is he going on about? Everyone knows he is late - they can see it on their watches.

And then Whitby creases up ... and, finally realising it is a joke, the rest of the room bursts into laughter.

Who said Iron Mike doesn't have a sense of humour!

Still, it proved to be catching. There was Glyn Pitchford, business representative on the City Region board, presenting a paper on the future of next generation broadband, and is in full flow, and just about to ask for the meeting's endorsement of the document, when in walk two policemen.

Pitchford, who has no idea who they are, stops in his tracks.

And, turning to Whitby, quips: "What have I said, chairman?" But, thankfully, he isn't lifted - it turns out they are new Chief Constable Chris Sims and a colleague there to talk about 'structural changes' within West Midlands Police.

And Pitchford drops a clanger at the end when confirming to all who may not have seen the announcement that West Midlands Business Council has merged with One Voice to literally have one voice speaking for the business community.

The trouble is that Pitchford is still trying to get his head around the new name too.

"The new organisation is called One Voice West Midlands," he declares.

And promptly gets nudged in the ribs by colleague James Watkins, reminding him that it is actually Business Voice WM.

Still, given it was a meeting of the less than snappily titled City Region of Birmingham, Coventry and the Black Country, there was some sympathy for the faux pas.

I hear the wags have a new name for Birmingham's long established Headline Communications - Off With Your Headline Communications.

It follows the sad departure of Phil Parkin, founding partner with colleague Dawn Roberts.

It seems that, hurting in the recession, it was deemed - in cowboy speak - that the agency was no longer big enough for the both of them.

And, in the fall-out, Parkin was the one to be blown away.

The other gag is that it proved a case of 'no Parkin', but as he came in on the train from Stourport-on-Severn it doesn't really work.

WEB: birminghampost.net/ johnbright COVERAGE: The usual gossip, sniping, jokes and bribes can be sent to John Bright at john. bright@birminghampost.net
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 12, 2009
Words:466
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