Local Labour leader admits devolution debate has led to “rare” agreement with Lichfield’s Conservative MP

The leader of the opposition Labour group at Lichfield District Council has admitted that devolved powers have left her in “rare” agreement with the area’s Conservative MP.

Michael Fabricant

Michael Fabricant

Michael Fabricant has continued to lobby on the issue of the West Midlands combined authority, despite the decision by the controlling Tory group at Lichfield District Council to vote against joining the regional link-up.

He also warned his Conservative colleagues that they could not afford to be “left out in the cold indefinitely” after their decision.

The Labour group on Lichfield District Council – led by Cllr Sue Woodward – had backed the combined authority plan.

“It’s one of the rare occasions I find myself in agreement with Michael Fabricant,” she said. “It was fascinating to see him throwing his weight behind getting the best possible deal for the West Midlands combined authority – which Lichfield District Council won’t be in.”

Cllr Mike Wilcox, leader of the local authority, had said there were too many risks involved in agreeing to join the regional link-up.

Sue Woodward

Sue Woodward

But Cllr Woodward blasted her Conservative counterparts for being “backward looking” on the issue.

“Too few councillors really understand what devolution is really about,” she said. “The attitude of some of the councillors was so backward and inward looking and not seeing the reality and opportunities.

“The reason given for not voting to join were the apparent risks inherent in going forward – but I’ve still to hear with any clarity from them what these risks were.

“Yes, we have to balance risk and opportunity, but on this occasion the opportunities far outweighed any perceived risks.

“Too many councillors seemed to think there was a risk of being taken over by Birmingham or being swamped by their housing needs. But this was not a factor anyway.

“Councils already have a duty to cooperate on housing needs so it may well be that we have to take homes from the Birmingham allocation anyway. Lichfield District Council won’t have the final say on that whether we’re in or out of a combined authority as the Secretary of State would ultimately decide.”

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1 Comment

  1. Nomad

    9th December, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    Now,that it appears the government want to build on greenbelt land to provide housing for the ever increasing British Population ,do councillors still want to join a,combined authority where they will have no say in what’s built where and the fina decision will be left in the hands of a,modern day Mussolini an undemocratically elected mayor ?