MP MATT Western has delivered a petition against Warwickshire joining the West Midlands Combined Authority without public say so.
The MP for Warwick and Leamington delivered the petition of nearly 1,000 signatures to parliament against the ‘annexing of Warwickshire into the West Midlands Combined Authority’ after summer recess.
Mr Western accused West Midlands’ mayor Andy Street of “naked gerrymandering” earlier in the summer when Mr Street attempted to bring Warwickshire into the combined authority.
The petition declared that any future discussions held between Warwickshire County Council and WMCA should be held openly and transparently and that a referendum should be held on any future proposed plans so residents can have their say.
The petition will now be sent to the department for levelling up, housing and communities, and will receive a response from that department.
The campaign against what Mr Western called ‘A Brum Deal’ began in July when it emerged that behind closed doors discussions had been taking place between the leader of WCC and the leader of the WMCA, reported to be spearheaded by the secretary of state Michael Gove.
Mr Street was accused of ‘gerrymandering’ which refers to the process of manipulating the boundaries of a constituency to favour a certain party. In this instance, some have claimed that by seeking to bring in Warwickshire, which traditionally would vote conservative, Mr Street was attempting to shore up conservative votes ahead of the May 2024 West Midlands’ mayoral election.
WCC made the call in July not to go ahead with the contentious merger before next May’s mayoral elections amid concerns about time constraints. The plans for a merger were not considered off the table for good however.
Mr Western told the Observer: “The attempt to annex Warwickshire into the WMCA was a blatant power grab by the conservative mayor of the combined authority as he sought to shore up support to stay in power next May. I am delighted that the campaign I led against these plans was successful and Warwickshire won’t be dragged into these political games. Local residents must be the priority in decision making, not political careers.”
To view the petition visit https://mattwestern.org/campaign/warwickshire-lets-not-be-run-by-brum/#petiton