SDC reverses its decision on new West Midlands Combined Authority


Leading voices in the district – especially in business circles – had argued that the district had missed a golden opportunity to be part of an exciting new initiative and would be unable to take advantage of the government funding that would be available to those who were members of it.
But despite Monday’s overwhelming majority in favour of joining the WMCA, and the fact that a number of councillors had changed their minds, there were still some impassioned speeches against having anything to do with the new authority.
One of them came from Cllr Mike Gittus (Cons, Kinwarton), the chairman of the council. He said he was “a little at a loss” to know why the council was reconsidering last October’s decision.
“The fact that a lawful decision did not find favour with a minority is not a good reason to reconsider it,” he declared. And, in reference to the council becoming a non-constituent member of the WMCA, Cllr Gittus said: “We would not get a vote. We may get a say – or we may not.”
Cllr Gittus referred to the WMCA as a metropolitan authority that would have “more dictatorial powers” and urged councillors to vote against joining it.
Cllr Anne Parry (Cons, Wellesbourne East) said she had not come across one person in her ward who was in favour of joining the WMCA. “This is not just about Stratford town but about the largest rural district in central England,” she said.
She declared: “The demographic profile of the people who live in this district is completely different to those of the West Midlands Combined Authority.” And she added: “Voting for this would be turning our backs on the people who elected us.”
Cllr Parry told fellow councillors: “Your decision today will be the most important decision you make in your term of office. Don’t be persuaded by big business. This lady is not for turning – and neither should you be.”
But Cllr Maurice Howse (Cons, Avenue), whose motion triggered this second meeting on the issue, said: “The West Midlands Combined Authority has been handed down to us by our government. It is a game-changer, a huge game-changer.”
Cllr Howse added: “In a changing world there is no such thing as certainty. We’re bound to have uncertainty as we go forward into the future. If we join, we’re on the train with them. We can talk to them, listen to them and argue with them.
“If we don’t like the decisions that are made we can withdraw. We can maintain our sovereignty. We have control over it.” And he urged councillors: “Do as I implore you to do to make the future of this district secure and vote yes.”
For a fuller report see Thursday’s Herald.

  • bran

    If this doesn’t show how poor our Council members see this town then I don’t know what will.
    Its pretty obvious all they care about sucking the right businessman’s dick!!
    Residents of Stratford are being sold down the river once again!!!!

  • sportfirst

    Staying as we are would not mean things staying the same so better to be involved. The government is clear about how it wants regional authorities to work and investment to be available. Seems that the Councillors have made a very sensible decision which maintains our ability to best protect the District’s needs either way. Now up to the Council to push ahead and make its presence felt.

  • johnie

    Warwick Council turned down the ‘opportunity’ to join the ‘super authority’ comprising Birmingham City Council, Coventry City Council, Wolverhampton City Council, Solihull
    Metropolitan Borough Council, Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council and
    Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council. What do we have in common with the above list?
    Stratford Council also turned it down originally but somehow it was put to the council again, so now we are on our way to becoming part of Bham with all the implications for resources being sucked out of South Warwickshire to fund bham’s issues such as a bankrupt authority with population explosion, relatively low skill/high unemployment, and huge demand for health, housing, education, social/benefits etc.
    Our council leader even mentions collaboration on housing as a benefit!

    • Bob

      You mention “super authority”, which it isn’t and each authority would retain its own sovereignty because it’s ‘combined’ – authorities working together. As a non-constituent member, Stratford-on-Avon council tax payers wouldn’t pay anything towards the WMCA, unless it was going to directly benefit the district, and the mayor would only cover the West Midlands county.

      I’m not sure how you’ve worked out that this is “becoming part of Bham” and Stratford would have to fund Birmingham… It’s the WEST MIDLANDS Combined Authority for a start and nothing would change with regards to boundaries. I’m sure people from the district are quite happy to benefit from having the city on their doorstep, but then don’t want to have anything to do with it if they think they might have to give up some of the money they earned in a job taken away from a Brummie!

      Birmingham City Council is hardly bankrupt when it’s buying shopping centres, etc, improving the area and then selling them on for a profit, such as with Pallasades – now Grand Central with John Lewis, and currently the Red Rose Centre in affluent Sutton Coldfield. The money from all the 120,000 people in Stratford district wouldn’t even put a tiny dent in Birmingham’s coffers – it funds a lot of the things people in the rest of the region use!