• Friday , 20 October 2017

Good news on a combined authority for the Black Country and Birmingham

Great news this morning – it’s brilliant to be able to announce that we will be forming a new combined authority with our Black Country and Birmingham neighbours.

Panorama web

My fellow leaders in Birmingham, Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton have agreed in principle for us all to work more closely for the benefit of us all.

We’ve also invited Solihull and Coventry to join us – and I really hope they do.

I’ve been on Midlands Today,  BBC WM and Free Radio this morning and I’m giving more interviews throughout the day.

The reaction on Twitter has been largely really positive, but I wanted to address a few questions.

Firstly, Sandwell (or any of the other councils) won’t suddenly cease to exist. Each authority will keep its own name, governance arrangements and identity.

The individual councils will still set their own council tax rates, they’ll still provide local services on an individual basis, there will be no amalgamation of services or councils.

The combined authority will be made up of a board of all of the council leaders, chaired by one of us, and also the chairs of the Local Enterprise Partnerships. This board will include the key talents in our geographical area.

What it will give us is a route for the government to devolve power from Westminster to us.

We’ll have stronger decision-making powers, more say over how money is spent and it will also give us a powerful voice to speak as one.

Another thing people are asking is if we’ll be known as “Greater Birmingham”. The simple answer is no.

We will work on a name that will reflect the views of the local people – for example, it may be called Birmingham and the Black Country.

However if other councils join us, we’ll have to think of something else. Possibly, it could be the West Midlands Combined Authority. We’re hoping to confirm the official name early next year.

I’m confident that by doing this, we’re going to attract hundreds of millions of pounds of investment to create jobs and improve transport links across the West Midlands.

You can read more about our plans on the council website.

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  • Chris Bradbury November 9, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    As a Dudley resident, I have to say that it really should be known as ‘Greater Birmingham’. It is after all the city region of our Second City. It would be sad if we were to become hung up on a name.
    However, if sensibilities are a problem, I would go for HEARTLANDS COMBINED AUTHORITY (with the slogan ‘The Beating Heart of England’).
    Nobody could object to that and it would appeal to any rural constituents of the authority, if they were to join too.
    Definitely not ‘West Midlands’.

  • Darren Cooper November 10, 2014 at 5:13 am

    Thank you for your comment. I’m not hung up on the name myself, however the term Greater Birmingham does seem to get people’s backs up here in the Black Country. The great thing to me is that the majority of people accept that we need to do this, and form our Combined Authority in the way we have outlined. Your right that we need a brand name that people outside of our area can relate to. I like your idea of Heartlands and the slogan (The Beating Heart of England) so I will feed it into the process when look at potential names if you dont mind. Again thanks for your great comment.

  • mel sloan November 10, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    The majority of people in West Bromwich say NO. Let everyone in Warley go with Greater Birmingham and give us our West Bromwich borough back before you ruin it further

  • Darren Cooper November 10, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    O well I’ll let others make their mind up about this comment. It’s a view and opinion which your entitled to, but are we talking about the same West Brom here.

  • Chris Bradbury November 11, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    No I certainly don’t mind if you like that name. With the decision on whether Coventry joins the authority ‘going to the people’ though, it looks unlikely that they will join after all. That is unless the Warwickshire councils can also be persuaded to join. It’s funny how people in Coventry see Brum and the Black Country as one entity (unstomachable to them). They’re only down the road too! Seems like the Coventry Telegraph is as provocative as the Express & Star aswell.

  • Sam December 2, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Really excellent news this. Agree that it should really be called ‘Greater Birmingham’ – speaking as a resident of the black country. Birmingham is the core of the region, and the black country will still keep its identity as part of a Greater Birmingham, just as the individual towns which make up the Sandwell and Dudley boroughs have done for example. Perhaps Greater Birmingham & the Black Country could work, if there is too much opposition to the former.

    Really glad that this is finally being done, can only mean good things for the area.

  • M. W. Jones December 15, 2014 at 4:16 am

    Good to see that the wishes of the people opposed to this idea, have been totally ignored, yet again, and you are, as you say, in charge of making decisions of this magnitude, without regard to the wishes of the people, and do not need to consult any of us on the matter.
    I would again, remind you of the way that Sandwell Council, not so long ago, ignored the people that were against the building of “The Public”, and pushed ahead with it, in much the same way.
    I remember well, the way in which much the same arguments were put forward by Sandwell Council, at the time, and we were given every assurance, that the idea was “the best thing possible for Sandwell”, and that it would, “create a landmark in innovation, that would attract untold wealth to the Borough”.
    I also remember well, the untold millions of pounds of taxpayers money that was WASTED, in trying to make a success of the idea, AND, how it all fell through, and left Sandwell M.B.C., as somewhat of a laughing stock to the rest of the country.
    Myself, I have reservations as to the real intent behind this idea. Birmingham, as the main consideration, has an even bigger percentage of immigrant population, and ls in dire need to find “affordable housing”, and “Social housing” for these people. How many of these immigrants, will be dumped onto the other Councils, when this amalgamation takes place ? Can we really trust a Council such as Birmingham, (recently awarded the dubious status of “not up to standard” ), not to start passing their immigrants onto us ? Can we really trust them to share out equally, any extra Government monies that they receive as part of this new idea, or will it be, Birmingham first, and everyone else, second, when it comes to allocating any funding ? Will we soon be seeing our Hospitals all based in Birmingham ?
    When the old Borough of Warley, amalgamated with West Bromwich to form Sandwell M.b.c., it was, even then pushed forward on the fact that it would be the best thing we could all ask for. Perhaps the name of the new M.B.C., should have been West Bromwich M.B.C. ? Most of the “improvements” we have seen, have been centered around West Bromwich. With the introduction of this latest Quango, I now strongly suspect, that most of the major improvements, will be centered around the Birmingham area, in much the same way.
    It is interesting also, to note that, despite being invited to attend meetings with a Local UKIP Councillor, and demonstrations, plus many people stating that they do NOT want your intended amalgamation with other Local Authorities, you are still determined to push ahead with it, regardless.
    In taking this Cavalier attitude to the rate payers of the Borough, I would suspect that, in future, you will no longer be known as “Councillor Darren Cooper, the voice of the people”, but as “Councillor Darren Cooper, the voice of Darren Cooper”.
    Arrogance, like familiarity, breeds contempt, and in spite of the way you have railroaded this amalgamation through, I wish you all the best in the venture, (and would love to be proven wrong), but I just hope that you never have to rely upon the support of the people, and their views, that you have totally ignored in reaching your decision.

  • Tom Cobley January 8, 2015 at 10:45 pm

    Mr Jones, this is NOT an amalgamation. Such a waste of a lot of your time, putting together that rant too. May I suggest checking facts first and maybe researching what a Combined Authority is?

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