West Midlands next in line for devolution deal, Tories say


Top Conservatives have signalled that the West Midlands is next in line for a major devolution of transport powers similar to that recently handed to Manchester.

Local authority in the region are in ongoing talks over the creation of a proposed Greater Birmingham Combined Authority area – expected to comprise Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

This combined authority is expected to receive the extra powers, which like Manchester could include control over local transport networks.

While on the election trail, chancellor George Osborne told the Birmingham Post: ‘I think it’s perfectly possible to have a really big act of devolution here in the West Midlands.

‘You’ve got authorities that are ready to work together and a real appetite to make sure we have local people in control of things like the transport and the skills budget.

'And I think Birmingham and the Black Country is really the next big place in our country where we can trust local people to make decisions.

‘This is part of the Conservative plan about re-balancing our economy, making sure we don’t place all our bets, like the last Labour government did, on the city of London.’

Tory peer Lord Heseltine stressed the local authorities had to design an acceptable proposal to government between themselves: ‘There will be a negotiation. Everyone knows what Manchester has got but they also know what Manchester has done to get it.'

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