Snapshot of this morning’s shock, first seen on the site of The Brummie aggregator:
FT: “The West Midlands has clinched the most valuable devolution deal to date . . . “ and illustrates this with a photograph of Kimber Drop Forgings in Cradley Heath, perhaps referring to George Osborne’s spiel that this deal will give the region ‘levers for growth’.
The Post: implies Treasury coercion and the over-riding of the democratic decision by Birmingham residents: ““Mr Osborne had been pushing local councillors to agree that the region should be led by a mayor and made it clear there would be no major devolution deal if they refused”.
The FT notes “some have questioned the ad hoc nature of decision making as councils to exchange money for ceding some power to an elected mayor” – but fails to mention that the people of Birmingham rejected the proposal for an elected mayor in 2012 when 57.8% – 120,611 people – voted against it.
People in some towns in Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire have not even been given the chance to have their vote ignored.
Post: “A mayor will chair the West Midlands Combined Authority and a statement issued by the Treasury made it clear the mayor would also have some influence over towns in Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire which are not full members of the new authority”.
An apparently buoyant Councillor Bob Sleigh, chair of the WMCA’s shadow board:
“This is an historic moment for the West Midlands. We have moved incredibly quickly to create the partnership between the seven metropolitan councils and our three LEPs and we are delighted the government has recognised this and has rewarded our ambition with the biggest investment package in the country.”
George Osborne, chancellor, and local council leaders are to meet in Coventry on Tuesday to sign the deal, details of which are given in both newspapers mentioned above.
Will it all end in tears?