THE LEADER of Stratford District Council has not ruled out teaming up with neighbouring Worcestershire councils.
Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton have already agreed in principle to form a West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
Those in favour argued such an authority – with devolved powers from central government – could help save money, promote economic growth, and address transport issues for a population of some four million.
But despite Warwickshire County Council rejecting plans to join the proposed WMCA earlier this month, Stratford District Council opted to keep its options open by discussing the plans further without committing to be part of the authority.
Instead, members opted for council leader Chris Saint to sit on the new WMCA shadow board as an observer.
At the same time, it was agreed the district council, which currently shares services with Cherwell, South Northants, South Staffordshire and Wychavon councils respectively, as well as Warwickshire County Council, would continue to look at linking up with other local authorities.
And speaking after the first meeting of the WMCA shadow board on Friday (September 11), Coun Saint insisted this was still very much the case.
He told The Observer: “The government is quite clear in its ambitions that groups of councils and local enterprise partnerships are expected to work together – not as a super council – but as a collaborative unit to enable national spending decisions to be made and managed locally rather than in Whitehall.
“I am implementing the council’s decision by keeping a close watching eye on the evolution of the WMCA, which is in detailed discussion with the Treasury.
“Warwickshire district leaders, meanwhile, are meeting regularly to determine their own position, which will emerge in the coming weeks.
“At the same time, I have written to all council leaders in Worcestershire to explore any possible joint working with these councils.
“We are not yet developing any working arrangements and it is up to them to respond. I hope they will and I can then put options to my members.
“Stratford District Council is very clear in its position – it has not moved forward, but it has not moved back either. We are making progress, however there is much work to be done before we can decide the best way forward.”
*RESIDENTS are running out of time to make their thoughts known on the council’s Core Strategy.
The key planning document, which will help shape development in the district until 2031, is currently undergoing a six week public consultation period.
And residents have until 5pm next Friday (September 25) to make any final comments on the proposed document.
Visit Stratford District Council’s website www.stratford.gov.uk/ for further information.