Warwickshire council chiefs pull u-turn on merger with West Midlands Combined Authority - The Leamington Observer

Warwickshire council chiefs pull u-turn on merger with West Midlands Combined Authority

WARWICKSHIRE County Council has u-turned on plans to join the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

The council made the call not to go ahead with the contentious merger before next May’s mayoral elections amid concerns about time constraints. The plans for a merger may not be off the table for good.

But nevertheless, the move is welcome news to the merger’s staunch opponents.

The Conservative leader of WCC Coun Izzi Seccombe previously said she believed there were many potential benefits to the authority becoming part of the WMCA – including transport and housing – but others have been far from convinced.

Warwick and Leamington Labour MP Matt Western and Stratford’s controlling Liberal Democrat district councillors were both fiercely opposed to the move.

SDC Leader Coun Susan Juned said: “Widespread opposition to the ridiculously tight timetable has pressurised the Conservative-run county council into a climbdown for now.

But the matter is not closed. The WCC leader has said that joining the WMCA will be considered further, ahead of the next West Midlands mayoral elections in 2028.

“WCC said any future decision would consider what’s best for the residents of Warwickshire. We would go further and demand that residents are given a say in such a huge constitutional change.”

Between now and the May 2024 mayoral elections, WCC faced a tight schedule of work before any final decision about the merger could be made. The council would have had to prepare a governance review which considered what an expansion of the WMCA to include Warwickshire would mean in terms of benefit to both the county and the broader region.

The review would have then been presented back to Cabinet and if it was agreed for the go ahead, a detailed scheme would have been the subject of a region-wide public consultation.

Mr Western, who launched a petition against WCC joining WMCA, said it was a great relief that the plans were being halted as it was never in the best interests of Warwickshire residents.

He continued: “I was grateful to local residents for joining me in opposing this attempt to annex Warwickshire into the WMCA and move important decisions away from our local representatives and into the hands of a Mayor almost 30 miles away.”

A WCC spokesperson said such a major change should be given the time and consideration it warranted and with the timeline set out for the council, it become clear it could not deliver an evidenced case.


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