MP warns Lichfield District Council can’t afford to be left out in the combined authority cold indefinitely

Lichfield’s MP has warned that the area cannot afford “to be left out in the cold indefinitely”, after councillors decided not to join the West Midlands Combined Authority.

A special meeting of Lichfield District Council saw all members of the controlling Conservative group vote against the link-up.

A yes vote would have seen Lichfield and Burntwood able to access investment expected to be devolved down to the combined authority under plans drawn up by the Chancellor George Osborne.

Michael Fabricant MP

Michael Fabricant MP

Conservative MP Michael Fabricant said that Lichfield District Council couldn’t afford to go it alone indefinitely.

“I regret, but understand the decision of the council,” he said. “There were grave concerns that Birmingham might try to dictate land use and housing numbers in Lichfield, though the council could have set limits on the powers of the Combined Authority just as Solihull – who have joined the grouping – has done.

“The question now that the council must face is where does it now go? The area has little in common with Stoke or Stafford. Most residents work either in the immediate area, in Birmingham, or commute to London.

“We do not want to be left out in the cold indefinitely as that might jeopardise the very future of a small council like Lichfield.”

Lichfield District Council leader Mike Wilcox explained the decision to opt out of a link-up, saying voting powers may have caused issues further down the line.

“It was simply the case that joining a combined authority was too big a risk at this moment in time,” Cllr Wilcox said. “Other authorities have also decided not to go in, so it’s not as if we’re not on our own.

“That’s not to say next year or whenever the Government give an opportunity to join that we won’t decide to join. But as a group we decided to take a step back at this stage and not join.”

But Cllr Sue Woodward, leader of the Labour opposition group, said the local authority had missed a great opportunity, insisting that the Tories could not have the best of both worlds.

She said: “The idea that we can still carry on talking to them [the combined authority councils] and them taking any notice of us is ludicrous – you can’t have your cake and eat it.

“Not having a veto is one thing, not being party to the discussions is something else altogether.”

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3 Comments

  1. Nomad

    3rd November, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    I can’t help but feel that the government has already decided we are staying in the EU before the referendum. I draw this conclusion because the Combined Local Authorities are an EU directive ,surely before any decision is made on joining any combined authority, we should wait until the public have decided whether or not we remain in the EU itself .

  2. Darryl

    3rd November, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    Benefits/disadvantages, perceived and real? And not just anecdotal tosh.

  3. Steve Norman

    10th November, 2015 at 9:28 am

    A rare case of me actually agreeing with our MP. Lichfield District Council should not be on the outside without influence or be seduced by the Leader of Staffordshire County Council’s pleas (they gave him short shrift in Tamworth) but stand up for the long term future of our residents.
    Realpolik every time for me.