29 August 2015
There are fears Solihull’s involvement in the WMCA is already a foregone conclusion following the announcement that the Council leaders of the seven authorities have established a ‘West Midlands Combined Authority Shadow Board’ – with Solihull’s council leader Coun Bob Sleigh at the helm as its Chair.
It is understood the interim ‘shadow board’ will become the board of the WMCA if it is to go ahead next April, with Vice Chair, Sandwell Council’s Coun Darren Cooper, tweeting: “Inaugural meeting of the shadow WMCA. Coun Bob Sleigh elected Chair and myself as Vice Chair. Historical [sic] day for our region.”
With Full Council set to make a final decision about Solihull’s involvement in the WMCA on October 13, there is concern local people could be shut out of key decisions that affect them.
When posed the question of what would happen if the people of Solihull were opposed to the WMCA plans, Coun Sleigh replied the decision is ‘a matter for (Tory controlled) Solihull Council.’
Green Party councillor, James Burn, Leader of the official opposition on Solihull Council, said while he and his fellow councillors congratulate Coun Sleigh on his appointment they are worried at ‘the pace the Combined Authority is progressing’.
He added: “It took Greater Manchester five years to get to this point, but Greater Birmingham has taken just 5 months.
“Really important decisions about the Combined Authority are being taken before Solihull people have had their say.
“People I’ve spoken to here are worried that the current plans may only benefit big-business owners with everyone else getting the crumbs.
“It is concerning that the people of Coventry and Sandwell are campaigning for a referendum on the Combined Authority decision but the people of Solihull are being asked for their opinions on plans that are completely speculative.
“It’s hard to have a consultation when there are no concrete proposals to have an opinion on.”