City region deals for West Midlands and Merseyside
Two more devolution deals involving city regions were announced this week, one for the West Midlands and the other for Merseyside.
The West Midlands agreement signed between ministers and members of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Shadow Board will translate into over £1bn of government investment to boost the regional authority economy.
The deal puts Britain’s second city and the wider West Midlands in line to be governed by a metro-mayor. They will work together across an area that runs from Telford and Wolverhampton in the west to Coventry and Nuneaton in the east and from Tamworth in the north to Redditch in the south.
Voters in the West Midlands will now choose a directly elected mayor in 2017, who will take on a raft of new powers including local transport budgets and franchised bus services and increased responsibility over employment support and skills provision.
The Government has also backed key transport ambitions for the region including funding the Curzon Street Enterprise Zone extension and funding the Metro extension to Eastside, subject to a business case.
Planning powers will be conferred on the mayor, to drive housing delivery and improvements in housing stock, and give the same competencies as the Homes and Communities Agency.
The Government will also work with the WMCA Land Commission, has committed to support the first part of the HS2 Growth Strategy and will work with the Combined Authority through the development of the second Roads Investment Strategy to explore options for reducing congestion on the strategic road network in the West Midlands.
In respect of Merseyside the agreement is scheduled to provide some £900m in government spending to help unlock the economic potential of the River Mersey and its new super port as well as maximising the opportunities from HS2.
The deal also includes support for Liverpool’s strengths in attracting major international events, with backing for the city’s International Festival for Business as well as its cultural attractions.
The new, directly elected Liverpool City Region Mayor will act as chair to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and will exercise the following powers and functions devolved from central government:
- Responsibility for a devolved and consolidated local transport budget
- Responsibility for franchised bus services, which will support the Combined Authority’s delivery of smart and integrated ticketing
- Powers over strategic planning, including the responsibility to create a Single Statutory City Region Framework, a Mayoral Development Corporation and to develop with government a Land Commission and a Joint Assets Board for economic assets.
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