BROMSGROVE and Redditch could become part of a greater Birmingham city region under plans being put forward by Jerry Blackett, the chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce.
The ‘super city state’ would also include the Black Country, Coventry and Solihull and would be run by an elected ‘metro mayor’.
Bromsgrove and Redditch are already members of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) and the proposal would follow the model of the ‘northern power house’ announced in the Queen’s Speech last week, which, centred on Manchester, would see local authorities run as a single ‘combined authority’.
George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said those cities that opted for it would have greater powers over housing, transport, planning and policing.
“Looking forward, there is probably only room for maybe a hundred truly global cities. Maybe only 50? That’s why we are increasingly talking about a Greater Birmingham,” said Mr Blackett.
“I think it is essential that the districts that are members of the GBSLEP are also invited to be part of a wider Combined Authority. The north-south corridors into and out of Birmingham are vital components of our impressive local economy.”
However the idea has been met with caution by local leaders, whose authorities risk losing their independence as part of a greater Birmingham.
Bromsgrove District Council leader, Coun Margaret Sherry, said: “I think we have got to wait and see what is on offer and also consider what would be best for our residents and we will discuss the issue in cabinet.
“However I do not agree with Metro mayors, it’s another layer of buraucracy and another cost to the public.
“The whole needs a lot more thought before a decision can be made.”
Coun Bill Hartnett, leader of Redditch Borough Council, said there had already been informal discussions on the issue but that no invitation to join had been issued yet.
“It will need careful consideration – we have already saved millions on the shared services journey we have been on with Bromsgrove and to an extent Wyre Forest and hopefully we have delivered a better service,” he said.
“Clearly we need to keep our identity, there is a great sense of community in Redditch and we would not want to lose it. I want what is best for Redditch.”