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Jamieson to tell Ministers West Midlands metro mayor plans ‘not fit for purpose’

Jamieson to tell Ministers West Midlands metro mayor plans ‘not fit for purpose’

🕔25.Jul 2016

The gulf of opinion that exists between West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson and council leaders about the powers the region’s metro mayor should have has deepened even further.

Mr Jamieson, who previously accused the seven metropolitan council leaders of attempting to “shackle” the mayor and of proposing a “ludicrously low” £40,000 pay package for whoever gets the job, went on the attack at a board meeting of the West Midlands Combined Authority.

He said a paper drawn up by the combined authority setting out the very limited powers to be enjoyed by the mayor from next May was “not fit for purpose” and should be re-drawn.

Mr Jamieson, a former MP and transport minister, warned that the Government might reject the “totally inadequate” powers proposed for the mayor putting at risk an £8 billion devolution deal for the West Midlands.

And in a blunt warning to the council leaders, he promised to write to Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Communities Secretary Sajid Javid to complain about the conduct of WMCA.

He will also advise Mrs Rudd that the role of police commissioner should not be passed on to the mayor of the West Midlands under the current governance arrangements being proposed by the council leaders.

Mr Jamieson told the WMCA board:

I want to put on record that the role that is being proposed for the mayor is totally inadequate for what we expect the mayor to do.

We have set out lofty ambitions for the mayor and we are right to do that. We want a powerful figure and a powerful office that will work hard on behalf of the seven council authorities.

I feel the document that has been put out for consultation has been predicated largely on restricting powers to be given to the mayor so that they are at the very minimum.

I will be making my views very loud and clear in representations to the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

It is not fit for purpose and it is not fit to envelop the role of the PCC.

I have no ambition to be the mayor but what worries me is that this is not in line with the Government’s own views of what the powers of a combined authority and a mayor should be.

My fear is we may get to October and the Parliamentary order and get profound objections that go to the heart of the powers of the mayor and the Minister may decide this is not the model that they want to see working in our area. It is a profound risk.

When elected next year the mayor will chair the WMCA cabinet consisting of council leaders and representatives from local enterprise partnerships, and will nominally have control of transportation, economic development and the skills agenda, as well as being able to raise funding from business rates.

But powers proposed for the mayor by the seven metropolitan authorities give the council leaders a veto over almost every important decision.

Roger Lawrence, the leader of Wolverhampton council, said he rejected all of Mr Jamieson’s complaints and added it was important there should be “checks and balances” in place to scrutinise the mayor. “It is all about team playing,” Cllr Lawrence added.

Consultation on the mayoral powers ends in four weeks. A final decision on the precise role of the mayor will be made by the Government and a Parliamentary order approving the May 2017 mayoral election will be debated by MPs and Peers in October.

Sion Simon, the Labour MEP and favourite to win his party’s nomination to run for mayor, told Chamberlain Files last week that he was “OK” with having few powers because he didn’t want to act as “the big I am”.

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