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Cameron urges West Midlands to be ‘bold’ with devolution vision

Cameron urges West Midlands to be ‘bold’ with devolution vision

🕔28.Oct 2015

David Cameron has urged the shadow West Midlands Combined Authority to be “bold” when negotiating a devolution deal with the Government.

The Prime Minister said there was “huge potential” to secure “massive devolution” to the West Midlands, but the vision from councils and LEPs had to be radical.

Answering questions in the House of Commons, Mr Cameron told Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant (Con) the West Midlands was the perfect place to benefit from the success and growth of London and a “rebalancing of the economy towards the north of England”. Mr Cameron added:

I would say to everyone in the West Midlands who is concerned that somehow they will be left out by the Northern Powerhouse that the West Midlands is in the perfect place to benefit both from the success and growth of London and, of course, a rebalancing of our economy towards the north of England.

We look forward to the West Midlands combined authority coming forward with its plans. I would say to all of these areas contemplating devolution and devolution deals that the more they can put on the table, the bolder they can be with their vision and the bolder the response they will get from Government.

The Prime Minister joined Chancellor George Osborne in hinting that a West Midlands devolution deal could be close to approval.

Yesterday Mr Osborne, answering questions in the Commons, said talks with the shadow combined authority and three local enterprise partnerships were continuing and he was trying to get an agreement “over the line”.

The seven West Midlands metropolitan councils and three LEPs submitted draft devolution proposals to the Treasury on September 4 and negotiations have been continuing. During that time the Government has approved devolution deals for the North East, Tees Valley and South Yorkshire combined authorities, all dependent on moving to a metro mayor system.

Mr Cameron did not comment directly on the content of the West Midlands submission, but made it clear that bold proposals from councils and LEPs would trigger a bold response from the Government.

Mr Fabricant told the Prime Minister:

The northern powerhouse will help millions, but it is the West Midlands that is the only region in the UK that has a trade balance surplus with China, and it is Greater Birmingham that has the fastest rate of private sector job creation in the UK since 2010. So will the Prime Minister now ensure in the national interest that the West Midlands secures the best devolution deal possible?

He was joined by Dudley North Labour MP Ian Austin:

May I tell the Prime Minister and the Chancellor that there is strong support from all the parties, the local enterprise partnerships, business and local authorities right across the West Midlands for a properly funded and significant devolution deal to strengthen the economy, to boost productivity, to get the brownfield sites redeveloped and to tackle congestion, so that we can transform the west midlands, with more jobs, better skills, quicker transport links and new homes?

Mr Cameron replied:

As I said, the more we can get the local authorities to come together and work together and put their ambition and vision on the table, the better the response they will get from the Government.

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