Shropshire Star

West Midlands Mayor 'encouraged' over super-council talks with Shropshire and Telford

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said it is "encouraging" that other local authorities are considering joining forces with the region's super-council.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) could expand to take on more members, after initial talks were held with bosses at Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin councils.

And the region's mayor, Mr Street, said their interest showed that other authorities see the WMCA as a "club they want to be part of".

Shropshire Council's Conservative leader Councillor Lezley Picton, and Councillor Shaun Davies, Labour leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, said informal discussions had taken place with the WMCA over future plans.

Full membership could bring with it access to major development funding for both councils – but would also see the county coming under the umbrella of the West Midlands Mayor.

Mr Street said: "I'm always up for expansion if a council were to come forward with a proposal.

"But we need to be really clear that no one has come forward with a proposal at this stage, not Conservative Shropshire or Labour Telford & Wrekin.

"There have been discussions, as both leaders have made clear, but they were very early and exploratory discussions.

"If anyone does come forward with a formal proposal, then we will of course consider it through the established structures.

"There is an underlying point, in that it is encouraging to me that councils see this as a club they want to be part of.

"They clearly see the success and they clearly see that the Government is using the combined authority to have money brought into the region. It's great they are considering their future with us."

Labour figures in the West Midlands, including mayoral candidate Richard Parker, have accused Mr Street of trying to gerrymander next year's mayoral election by bringing more Tory voters on board.

But Mr Street rejected the claims, saying: "The point is that the councils must take the initiative, not me."

The WMCA currently has seven full members – Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Coventry and Solihull.

Conservative-run Staffordshire County Council has ruled itself out of joining.