Speaking on behalf of the West Midlands Authorities exploring options for a Combined Authority, the leader of Sandwell Council, Councillor Darren Cooper, said: “The West Midlands is delighted to see the inclusion of a Cities Devolution and Local Government Bill in the government’s first Queen’s Speech.
“This is good news for the region. It comes just a week after Coventry and Solihull announced their intention to join Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton Councils in a proposed combined authority for the West Midlands that would be the largest and most economically powerful authority outside of London.
“The Queen’s speech demonstrates that the government is prioritising devolution to cities, coming fast on the heels of major announcements about the Northern Powerhouse, the forthcoming Productivity Plan and the appointment of new ministers to drive this agenda.
“For our area this is a once in a generation opportunity to move power from Whitehall to the West Midlands and have a much bigger say in making the key decisions that will drive economic growth in relation to transport, housing, regeneration and jobs.
“There is a real sense of urgency in the region and politicians are grasping the nettle to transform how our councils work together and to present a credible, ambitious and compelling business case to government.
“A case that will demonstrate we are serious about our vision for growing our own economy and reforming our public services, spreading prosperity and opportunities for people and businesses across the region.
“We have a clear work plan that includes consulting and working with a range of individuals, residents, businesses and organisations with the aim of developing a prospectus, to be published in the summer.
“This will be the basis for our negotiations with government for a major devolution deal.
“These are exciting times for the region and we head in to the next few months with renewed optimism. The West Midlands is preparing to become the UK’s new engine house of productivity and once again the beating heart of the country’s economy.”