October 22nd, 2016

Council leader calls for rethink after authority opts not to join WMCA

Council leader calls for rethink after authority opts not to join WMCA Council leader calls for rethink after authority opts not to join WMCA
Updated: 1:24 pm, Oct 16, 2015

THE LEADER of Warwick District Council is hoping for a rethink after the authority voted not to be part of a West Midlands super council.

Seven other councils including Birmingham and Coventry have already agreed in principle to join the proposed West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

Those in favour argue such an authority – with devolved powers from central government – would help save money, promote economic growth, and address transport issues for a population of some four million.

Warwickshire County Council voted against joining the authority last month Рopting instead to look to strengthen ties with Coventry, despite that authority’s commitment to the WMCA, which could be up and running as soon as April next year.

Members of Warwick District Council were given the option to either follow the lead of the county council or agree to sign up to the WMCA.

And the Conservative-led authority voted against becoming a non-constituent member of the WMCA under the current terms offered.

Speaking about the decision, council leader Andrew Mobbs, said: “Ultimately we had to make a choice and I don’t think it’s an issue where we can keep sitting on the fence.

“We see no common ground between the WMCA and our own very special district. We have particular needs in this area and particular skills, which I feel would be forgotten if the needs of the bigger cities come first.

“My preference is still for a Coventry and Warwickshire partnership and my hope, now the grand majority of boroughs, districts and the county have rejected the WMCA proposals, is there might be a rethink in Coventry.

“I don’t want to settle for the second or third best option – I want the best for our district and I believe that isn’t being part of any proposed West Midlands Combined Authority.”

But Labour group leader John Barrott was quick to criticise the authority’s decision.

He said: “Despite papers suggesting we should join, the Conservatives ignored the advice by pushing ahead with their own agenda and continuing to pursue a Coventry and Warwickshire option.

“Businesses have stated the one thing we should not be doing is breaking our strong ties with Coventry especially as they have made it very clear they are joining the WMCA.

“My fear is Warwick District Council will now be left behind by pursing an option that does not exist.”

Neighbouring Stratford District Council expressed reservations about joining the WMCA last month and voted against becoming a member at a meeting on Monday (October 12).