David Cameron promises best devolution deal for West Midlands after being quizzed by Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant

David Cameron has promised the West Midlands will get the best devolution deal possible after being quizzed in the House of Commons by Lichfield’s MP.

Michael Fabricant raised the issue of support for the region during Prime Minister’s Questions.

But his queries came in the wake of Lichfield District Council’s decision not to sign up for the West Midlands Combined Authority – although it will continue to have an interest via the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership.

He said: “The northern powerhouse will help millions, but it is the West Midlands that is the only region in the UK that has a trade balance surplus with China, and it is Greater Birmingham that has the fastest rate of private sector job creation in the UK since 2010.

“So will the Prime Minister now ensure, in the national interest, that the west midlands secures the best devolution deal possible?”

David Cameron was quick to pledge his support for the region.

David Cameron

David Cameron. Pic: World Economic Forum

“I think we have huge potential here to secure massive devolution to the West Midlands,” he said. “I would say to everyone in the West Midlands who is concerned that somehow they will be left out by the northern powerhouse that the West Midlands is in the perfect place to benefit both from the success and growth of London and, of course, a rebalancing of our economy towards the north of England.

“We look forward to the West Midlands combined authority coming forward with its plans.

“I would say to all of these areas contemplating devolution and devolution deals that the more they can put on the table, the bolder they can be with their vision, and the bolder the response they will get from Government.”

The Conservatives on Lichfield District Council rejected the opportunity to join the combined authority amid concerns over the power of veto they may or may not have on decisions impacting directly on the area.

Council leader Mike Wilcox said: “We’re still part of two Local Enterprise Partnerships and we will continue with our economic agenda where we are getting funding from these bodies.

“It was simply the case that joining a combined authority was too big a risk at this moment in time. 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 his views were at odds with those of Cllr Sue Woodward, leader of the Labour opposition group at the council.

She said: “It’s all well saying there was no veto, but there will be no chance to have a say, let alone a veto, now.”

Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.