Following a meeting of Full Council on Tuesday 13th October, Cllr Bob Sleigh, Leader of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, has confirmed that Solihull Council has decided to sign-up as a constituent member of a West Midlands Combined Authority.
Cllr Sleigh said 'This has been a long journey, but I am glad we have now been able to come to a decision that I am confident will benefit Solihull in the long run. I began talking to partners about the potential for a combined authority in November 2014. From day one I have been seeking the evidence that being involved in a combined authority would support an ‘economic plus’ model for Solihull, and I am now confident that it will".
He added; "I have also continued to seek mandates from fellow councillors to take these discussions forward, with the aim of letting Council make a final decision."
It was clear from the debate that members had considered the proposal in great detail and their decision to be part of a West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) was welcomed. We now look forward to the other five authorities joining Solihull and Coventry as constituent members, alongside our three local enterprise partnerships and district councils in a WMCA.
Now the Council has made this decision, Cllr Sleigh promised to continue to represent Solihull’s best interests within a WMCA. He also recognised this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the West Midlands to speak as one voice to government and the wider world; to make the decisions that affect the region here in the region; not in Whitehall.
Negotiations with government will continue around a potential devolution deal and when these have been concluded to our satisfaction, the details will be shared.
Cllr Sleigh gave an assurance that he will seek Council’s consent and support before making a decision on any devolution deal.
The WMCA’s stated priorities revolve around improving skills, connectivity and economic growth. They chime exactly with our vision in Solihull for achieving sustainable economic development within the borough and offer us our ‘economic plus’ dividend.
Once the WMCA is approved by all partners and the government, it will be incumbent upon local politicians to deliver on these ambitions, for the benefit of all our residents, communities and businesses; to re-establish the region as the Midlands Engine of the British economy.
Councillor Bob Sleigh
Leader of Solihull Council