Cllr Roger Lawrence, Leader of the Council,
briefed Councillors on current progress made in the establishment
of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), details of the
devolution deal and the election of a Mayor.
Keith Ireland, Managing Director, welcomed
Stuart Evans to the meeting. The Managing Director explained the
reason the delay in getting Parliamentary approve to establish the
WMCA and the abolition of the West Midlands Integrated Transport
Cllr Lawrence advised that Warwickshire and
Rugby were now non-constituent members of WMCA, and that
discussions were on-going with other local authorities.
Councillors queried the reasons for the
objection to the order to establish WMCA. Cllr Lawrence explained that the parliamentary
process allows a single MP to object to a draft Order of the
Secretary of State. The reason for the objection was related to the
creation of the Mayor and the powers that would be conferred on
Stuart Evans explained that the order would be
re-submitted and the expectation is it will be approved as it only
requires a majority of MPs to approve the order.
Councillors queried the financial contribution
of members of WMCA and if the amount was on one off payment.
The Managing Director explained that there is
a flat rate contribution for 2016/17 of £250,000 for members.
The payment for non-constituent members is £25,000. Districts
will contribute at a rate of £100,000. The level of payment
will be increased in future at the determination of the Combined
Authority Board. The Managing Director explained that it was a
costly process to set up the WMCA.
The Board discussed the role of WMCA in
improving transport links across the region.
Councillors queried the governance
arrangements for WMCA. The Leader explained the different members
of the WMCA are leading on different work streams. For example,
Sandwell MBC was leading on the Land Commission and City of
Wolverhampton Council is leading on the governance work stream.
Councillors commented on the need to involve
the public in the discussions about the development of the WMCA and
in producing information showing the benefits for Wolverhampton and
the wider region. Councillors expressed concern that they did not
have enough information to answer queries from the public about the
benefits of WMCA.
Cllr Lawrence outlined the benefits of WMCA
will bring to Wolverhampton and the region, such as job creation
and making the region more competitive.
The WMCA has communications team working to
raise awareness of the current and future plans. Cllr Lawrence
commented on the need to consider the individual identities of the
seven metropolitan councils and getting public support for the
plans. The key issue was to stress that the WMCA plans were aimed
at drawing down powers from central government rather than drawing
powers from local authorities.
The Managing Director outlined the funded
posts within the WMCA and the other senior officer supported
provided, at no cost to the WMCA.
Councillors commented on the importance of
robust accountability and strong governance arrangements. The
Managing Director responded that skilled expertise ...
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