SOLIHULL Council has voted in favour of joining the West Midlands Combined Authority.
At a full council meeting on Tuesday night (October 13) councillors backed Council Leader Bob Sleigh’s recommendations for Solihull to become a full constituent member of the proposed Combined Authority.
Working alongside three Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), local district councils, and Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton authorities, the WMCA will seek to wrestle powers from Westminster.
Describing the WMCA as a ‘partnership of equals’, Coun Bob Sleigh assured councillors that it would not result in the transfer of Solihull’s sovereignty to any other local authority – rather allowing the borough to access funding that would otherwise be unavailable if the council were to proceed on its own.
Citing the success of ‘Northern Powerhouse’ Manchester, Coun Sleigh added that the CA would allow for a single voice to speak for the West Midlands rather than the various councils independently ‘knocking on the door of Whitehall with a begging bowl’.
When officially formed, the WMCA will enter into discussions with Government over devolving powers – including an inward investment programme, and local transport and housing powers – to the region.
Commenting on the decision, Councillor Sleigh said: “At last night’s meeting it was clear members had considered the proposal in great detail and Council’s approval to be part of a West Midlands Combined Authority.
“Now we have decided to be part of the WMCA, I promise to continue to represent Solihull’s best interests, whilst also recognising this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the West Midlands to speak as one voice to government and the wider world.
“I can reassure residents, businesses and all those I have engaged during the combined authority process that I will once again seek Council’s consent and support before making a decision on any devolution deal.
“Once the WMCA is approved by all partners and the government, it will then be incumbent upon us politicians to deliver on our ambitions, for the benefit of all our residents, communities and businesses; to re-establish the region as the Midlands Engine of the British economy.”