30/03/2016 - Permalink

Report to Cabinet seeks approval for Shropshire Council to become member of West Midlands Combined Authority

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A report recommending Shropshire Council becomes a ‘non-constituent’ member of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) will be presented to Cabinet next week (Wednesday 6 April 2016) for approval.

The report outlines the rationale for Shropshire Council to become a ‘non-constituent’ member of WMCA, and the potential long term economic growth benefits to the county in so doing.

The WMCA was set up following the Government’s plans for devolution, whereby current Government powers and money are transferred to councils so they can make decisions and spend money for the benefit of the region, as they see fit.

WMCA comprises the seven metropolitan boroughs of the West Midlands, the three Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) covering the geographical area, and a current total of five non-constituent members, including Telford and Wrekin Council. Stratford-upon-Avon District Council is to join as a non-constituent member later this year.

The WMCA is not a ’super-council’ and would not take over any of the powers currently held by Shropshire Council.  As a ‘non-constituent’ member, the council would retain its identity and would not have to surrender any of its decision-making to the WMCA. The council would also remain in the Marches LEP, along with Herefordshire Council and Telford and Wrekin Council.

Becoming a ‘non-constituent’ member of the WMCA will allow the council to do business with others as well as with the Government to improve the transport, housing, broadband and mobile infrastructure of Shropshire. This will lead to improved physical and digital connectivity; further support to businesses including the expansion of high-level manufacturing; upskilling of the workforce across all ages and sectors; an increase in housebuilding growth; and help further utilise the county’s private and public sector land assets.

There are ongoing financial implications in becoming a non-constituent member, of £25,000 per annum. Constituent members are paying a fee of £500,000 per annum.

Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for business and economy, said:-

“This is a vitally important opportunity for Shropshire to take control of our own economic growth and prosperity, and play a key role in the future economic growth of our county and the wider region. This move will bring great benefits for Shropshire and for the people who live and work here, as well as those businesses already operating in the county and those who will be attracted to set up here.”

For the report to Cabinet click here.

Further information

The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and the Fire Service for the West Midlands hold ‘Observer’ status of the WMCA.

The WMCA will be led by an elected West Midlands Mayor.

The timescales for the next steps for the WMCA are that it will go live on 1 June 2016, ahead of the progress of the necessary mayoral order through Parliament for the election of a ‘metro mayor’ for the West Midlands.