Leamington MP takes petition against West Midlands Combined Authority to Westminster
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The petition declared that any future discussions held between Warwickshire County Council (WCC) and the WMCA should be held openly and transparently and that a referendum should be held on any future proposed plans so residents can have their say.
The petition presented will be sent to the Government department responsible for the subject of the petition, in this case, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and will receive a response from the department.
The campaign against what Matt Western called ‘A Brum Deal’ began in July when it emerged that behind closed doors discussions had been taking place between the leader of WCC and the leader of the WMCA, reported to be spearheaded by the Secretary of State, Michael Gove.
The Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, was accused of ‘gerrymandering’ which refers to the process of manipulating the boundaries of a constituency to favour a certain party. In this instance, some have claimed that by seeking to bring in Warwickshire, which traditionally would vote Conservative, Mr Street was attempting to shore up Conservative votes ahead of the May 2024 West Midlands’ Mayoral election.
After presenting the petition, Matt Western said: “The attempt to annex Warwickshire into the WMCA was a blatant power grab by the Conservative Mayor of the Combined Authority as he sought to shore up support to stay in power next May.
"I am delighted that the campaign I led against these plans was successful and Warwickshire won’t be dragged into these political games. Local residents must be the priority in decision making, not political careers.
“I was proud to present this petition to Parliament on behalf of our towns and villages and am grateful for the nearly 1,000 constituents who joined the campaign and signed my online petition.”
In July, WCC confirmed it would not become full members of the WMCA ahead of the next mayoral election in May 2024.
It came just 11 days after the cabinet resolved to ask council officers, the employed professionals that run the day-to-day business of the authority, to look at the prospect of becoming full constituent members and other options to ensure Warwickshire did not get left behind amid government plans to give more powers and financial control to local authorities under devolution deals.
The sudden nature of the plans raised alarm bells in district and borough councils within Warwickshire.
At WCC’s Shire Hall headquarters, councillors from all parties queried the timescales involved.
On one hand, WCC would have to apply for full membership by October in order for residents to have a say in the election of the next mayor.
On the other, that limited the time the council had to work out exactly what it would it could mean and to hold a public consultation, and it was those issues that ultimately derailed the plans in the short term.