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07.06.16

‘Disjointed and confused’ WMCA deal passes through Lords despite criticism

The House of Lords passed a motion to create the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) as a legal entity, despite concerns raised by many peers about its structure.

The Lords approved an order to create the combined authority, consisting of Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton councils.

The order also abolishes the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority and Passenger Transport Executive, which will be absorbed into the WMCA.

However, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath pointed out that an elected mayor for the authority, due to be voted through Parliament in a separate order and introduced next year, was rejected by a referendum in the area.

He accused Baroness Williams, parliamentary under-secretary for the DCLG, who proposed the legislation, of having “forced” West Midlands councils to accept the mayor in exchange for new powers.

Similarly, Lord Kennedy of Southwark said “it is fair to say that it could be seen as a bit disjointed and confused and not at all like the deals we have seen in Greater Manchester”, citing a recent NAO report warning that the English devolution process is suffering from a lack of government oversight.

Baroness Williams said that the process of creating the WMCA had been “a truly local, bottom-up process”.

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