The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is to be formed by under a Devolution agreement with Government .
Prior to its expected formal establishment later in the Spring, following Parliamentary approval in April, activity is currently being led by a Shadow Board, with Councillor Bob Sleigh of Solihull Council as Chair and Councillor Darren Cooper of Sandwell Council as Vice Chair.
The area covered by the WMCA is that of the constituent members, who have ultimate voting rights and can only be signed up to one combined authoritywhich are:
Birmingham City Council, City of Wolverhampton Council, Coventry City Council, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, Walsall Council
and of the non-constituent authorities, who can sign up to more than one combined authority and have less voting rights than constituent members which are:
Cannock Chase District Council, Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, Redditch Borough Council, Stratford-on-Avon District Council, Tamworth Borough Council, Telford and Wrekin Council.
The WMCA will assume a number of powers for policy making and decision making devolved from national Government, with the following agreed as its priorities:
- Strengthening the local economy with the aim of becoming the strongest outside London and contributing fully to the Government’s vision of a wider ‘Midlands Engine for Growth’.
- Addressing the recognised shortage at both at the lower and higher ends of the skills spectrum, as reflected in the high levels of unemployment across the region.
- Developing the regional transport infrastructure to establish a fully integrated rail and rapid transit network that connects the main centres with quick and frequent services.
- Accommodating the ever-increasing population with an improved approach to housing by identifying land which can be used or regenerated to create homes for the future.
The Shadow Board has already launched activity in two other areas of strategic priority for the Authority:
- It has launched a Mental Health Commission under the leadership of Norman Lamb to address the level of mental health problems in the region and pilot new ways of working.
- It has commenced work on preparing for reform of the delivery of public services in the region and the necessity to reduce the cost of provision.