28th Oct, 2016

Warwick district set to decide on super council future

Ian Hughes 6th Oct, 2015 Updated: 7 hours ago

COUNCILLORS in Warwick district are set to decide this week whether to join a new West Midlands super council.

Seven other authorities including Birmingham and Coventry who have already agreed in principle to joining 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.

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

Warwick District Council leader Andrew Mobbs has already expressed fears the interests of people living in towns and rural areas could come second to those living in cities if the WMCA was created.

Coun Mobbs said: told The Observer: “Coventry and Warwickshire is a unique and special area with a real heritage and cultural value. 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.

“I think it would stand on our own as a separate authority as the council can concentrate on the needs of the area and not be backgrounded with the other larger cities in the proposed combined authority.”

Councillors had the option to follow the lead of the county council, and look towards forming closer ties – economic, housing and planning – with fellow authorities in Warwickshire and also Coventry.

If councillors did decide to agree to join then £10,000 would be set aside for WMCA start-up costs.

Neighbouring Stratford District Council also last month expressed reservations about joining the WMCA, but agreed for its leader Chris Saint to sit on the WMCA Shadow Board to monitor developments.

Councillors in Warwick district will discuss the issue on Wednesday.