Tamworth will maintain a vital role in the future growth and development of the prosperity of the West Midlands region, after the council voted unanimously to join the proposed West Midlands Combined Authority.
The proposed WMCA would be made up of the seven metropolitan areas of Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton and could also include the district and borough councils within three Local Enterprise Partnership areas. Those areas are Greater Birmingham & Solihull – of which Tamworth is a member – Black Country and Coventry & Warwickshire.
The creation of the WMCA would allow for integration and collaboration across member authorities, which would work together on growth in key areas including employment and skills, health, housing and transport.
Ambitious proposals which could see powers devolved from Westminster to the new WMCA were submitted to Government earlier this month. If they are approved by the Treasury, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government would then need to agree to the creation of the WMCA. Both of those decisions are expected in October.
Tamworth Borough Council has been involved in the development and creation of both the WMCA and its ambitious devolution deal from the beginning of the process, with Cabinet member for Economic Growth & Regeneration, Cllr Steve Claymore, and Chief Executive Tony Goodwin attending all briefings, workshops and meetings.
Now the process has taken a step further forward, after members voted unanimously on Tuesday to accept the invitation to take up membership of the proposed WMCA. The plans received cross-party support.
The council also reaffirmed its commitment to continuing to work with Staffordshire County Council, the district and borough councils across Staffordshire and other stakeholders for the benefit of Tamworth and the wider community.
The WMCA is not a ’super-council’ and would not take over any of the powers currently held by Tamworth Borough Council. The borough authority would retain its identity and would not have to surrender any of its decision-making to the WMCA.
Cllr Steve Claymore, Cabinet Member for Economy and Education, said, “This is a vitally important opportunity for Tamworth to play a major role in the future economic growth of the borough and the wider region. Membership of the WMCA will have great benefits for Tamworth and for the people who live and work here, as well as those businesses already operating in Tamworth and those who will be attracted to set up here.
“I am delighted that this has been given cross-party support and that we are all committed to working together to make sure we play a full part in the new Combined Authority, while at the same time retaining our distinct Tamworth identity.”
Tamworth Borough Council Leader, Cllr Daniel Cook, said, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Tamworth to become a driver in the regional economy. This will bring major benefits for Tamworth and the people who live and work here. Let’s grab this opportunity and get going.”