I have to say that it is interesting in the way that Local Government is having to find different ways to too ‘cover off’ the role the former West Midlands County Council played, even after all these years it has been abolished!
Since the WMCC was abolished by Maggie Thatcher, there has been myriads of different Joint Committees and Joint working arrangements. So much so the public has lost sight of who is responsible for their public spending and policy development.
Now we are in for change once again as the new Conservative Government introduces another set of changes, that do not altogether sit happily with the seven Local Authorities and their citizens.
The West Midlands Powerhouse model that the Government is intent on bringing in is just another way of reintroducing the role that the WMCC played. After all these years of change the fact is that the WMCC has never been adequately replaced. Yet the cost of the reform I would hazard a guess has also been very high. The new Combined Authority is being rushed to be set up. It will be just a matter of time before the Government forces this new body to have a Regional or Metro Mayor to oversee it.
Still these are the changes that Conservatives want, and nothing will change them now.
So it would be daft for Wolverhampton to set its face against co operating with these new proposals. Pragmatisms is the name of the game, and I support Wolverhampton’s change of policy direction and to play the largest role it can to be part of the new thinking.
On Regional Working the City Council is now setting out its key policies which are Greater Economic Growth, regional transport strategies and policies, with Skills Commission work.
All of which will require a proposal for central government to approve a deal for the ‘Midlands Powerhouse’ to go forward.
Amongst the key individual policies that Wolverhampton will be chasing is the proposal to build the new transport ‘Interchange project’ based at the rail station and which has a delivery date of 2019 against its name.
Whilst we are in the ‘Change Game’ I hope Government also looks at the number of LEP’s it has in this region. They need to be reformed too!
Lets all keep an eye on these developments.