SOLIHULL is a step closer to joining the new West Midlands Combined Authority after Council leader Bob Sleigh expressed his interest in signing up to it – in the hope of winning new powers for the region from Westminster.
The government has re-iterated it wants new regional authorities to receive powers to decide how they spend money for jobs schemes and economic regeneration, transport, housing and other policy areas.
Coun Sleigh signalled his intention at a meeting of the Annual Council.
He is seeking approval for ‘taking forward detailed discussions in principle to support other West Midlands authorities in a bid to explore devolution options across the region’.
He said his decision follows extensive discussions and analysis of the evidence over several months and has been taken in the light of the Government’s recent announcement to bring forward legislation to devolve powers.
“These devolved powers would include greater freedoms and flexibilities, which will see power coming from Whitehall to local people, allowing local people a greater say in determining the future of the region,” he added.
“My decision also comes from an understanding that in order to achieve Solihull’s wider ambition for sustainable economic growth the borough needs a high performing regional platform of a scale and geography that attracts the significant inward investment needed to satisfy that ambition.
“Having signalled my intention to support in principle, it’s down to us the politicians and stakeholders, including Solihull’s businesses and educationalists, to now prove the case that working together we can achieve acceleration in our economy.”
Coun Sleigh will meet with the Conservative Group and other group leaders to discuss the matter further.
This will then be followed by reports to Cabinet on 18 June, Scrutiny week commencing 29 June and to full Council on 14 July, where all members will be able to debate the proposal fully.
Solihull MP Julian Knight said: “Solihull’s role is one of engagement and discussion and right at the red line the borough still needs to retain its independence.
“Councillors and MPs are united in ensuring Solihull still retains its crucial independence over big ticket items and by signing up the borough can also look to a bigger co-operation for transport infrastructure and foreign investment.”