There were over 1900 responses to the survey that will help government decide whether it is appropriate to form a West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
The survey ran on the WMCA’s website for three weeks (18 January to 08 February) and the results have now been fed back to government.
There were five key questions relating to the proposed Combined Authority’s role and functions and, specifically, about the Scheme document that was submitted to government three months ago.
Overall, the majority of respondents were in favour of what the incoming WMCA is trying to achieve. Between 60% and 72% of people agreed or strongly agreed that:
- by working together local authorities in the West Midlands would deliver improvements in economic development, regeneration and transport
- better coordination of these areas would mean more effective and convenient local government and services
- the region’s Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) would ensure businesses have a strong voice moving forward, and
- neighbouring local authorities should be invited to participate in the WMCA.
An overwhelming 84% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the WMCA should not become a ‘super council’ and that a Combined Authority for the region should not have an adverse effect on the identities and interests of local communities.
The support for the emerging WMCA was particularly strong amongst businesses with between 75% and 88% of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing with all five questions in the survey.
Set against the overall support across residents, businesses, elected members and council employees, there were also those who expressed their concerns about the proposed Combined Authority. Between 24% and 32% of people disagreed or strongly disagreed with the four questions relating to the WMCA’s role and functions. Additionally, a wide range of negative comments were expressed in the free text section of the survey which was used by over 800 people. The concerns included the role and powers of a directly elected Mayor, whether there would be cross party unity between participating authorities and the ongoing identity of the WMCA.
Councillor Darren Cooper, Vice Chairman of Shadow West Midlands Combined Authority, said: “This consultation has been incredibly useful and shows that there is certainly an appetite to discuss our plans to become a Combined Authority. It’s important that people have a voice and we understand that people want to express a view. To achieve over 1900 responses over a three week period is encouraging and we will now take our time to analyse what people have said and how we can best respond to them.
“In the meantime we have submitted the initial results to government who will consider what people have said and who will ultimately decide whether it is in the region’s best interests to form a Combined Authority for the West Midlands.”
The West Midlands Combined Authority is based on the geography of the three Local Enterprise Partnerships which cover the Black Country, Coventry and Warwickshire and Greater Birmingham and Solihull. The WMCA is being led by the seven metropolitan councils: Birmingham, Dudley Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton.
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