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FOI: City Region

Posted by wonkotsane on November 16, 2006

Telford & Wrekin Council have responded to the following Freedom of Information Act request:

I would like to know the following in relation to the city region:

  1. How long has the borough been participating in the executive board of the city region?
  2. How much money has been spent on the city region?
  3. How many objections have been received to the city region and what were their nature?
  4. What promises or commitments have been made to the city region?
  5. What powers are expected to be delegated to the city region?
  6. What power will the council have to veto decisions made by the city region?

The response from Telford & Wrekin Council is below.  My comments are in red. 

I would respond to your six questions (received by the Council on 14th October), as follows:

  1. The City Region Board exists in shadow form only. It comprises the local authorities of Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Telford, Walsall, Wolverhampton, the WM Regional Assembly, Advantage WM, the regional Learning & Skills Council and the business community. This will also be the composition of the Board when it moves out of its shadow form in April of next year.The role of the shadow Board is to create a draft Vision and an associated framework within which the Board proper will operate. Both the Vision and the associated framework will be subject to consultation before they are formally adopted.The Borough of Telford & Wrekin has participated in the Shadow Board since it was agreed that it should become a member of the partnership, in March 2006.
  2. To date, the Borough has made no monetary contribution to the City Region.  (The question was how much has been spent on the city region, not how much has been contributed –  what are the indirect costs?)
  3. I have written to BTW’s interim Chief Executive, the Leader of the Council, all Directors, Cabinet Members, Heads of Service and Business managers to ask them how many objections they have received to the city region.The answer is that (in addition to those received from you and recorded on the Telford Council Watch website which you are involved with), we have received three written objections and around three verbal ones (the latter is an estimate because one Cabinet Member told me that they had received one verbal enquiry. The other two ‘verbal objections’ arose from a debate between Shropshire Town and Parish Councillors attended by two Telford officers. I could record this ‘verbal objection’ as one or as four or so).The majority of comments received were based upon a simple misunderstanding of what the City Region is all about.

    Four of the six objectors expressed a concern that the City Region might dilute the Borough’s historic relationship with its Shropshire hinterland; one that it would lead to us creating a “Black Country within Shropshire”. None of these worries have any basis in reality. This was explained to the citizens we heard from, either in person or in writing.

    One person who wrote to us expressed the opinion that you have expressed, that the Council somehow requires a fresh democratic mandate before agreeing to become a member of the City Region. I have written to this citizen, explaining that this is not our view. However, the people of the Borough will have a chance to vote in the normal way in May, 2007.

    (Could this be as a result of the deliberate lack of publicity about the city region, what it will do and how much it will cost?)

  4. The draft City Region strategic framework has not yet been agreed. Nor has the precise nature of how we hope to work together. Any proposed specific commitments by the constituent Authorities to working through a City Region partnership will be clarified when these decisions have been taken.When a draft framework has been agreed, we will request comments from residents and businesses. The Shadow Board will consider these views before arriving at a final decision about the ‘rules’ that will govern the partnership.
  5. The City Region is envisaged to be a voluntary partnership. As such, it is not currently envisaged that powers will be delegated to it.(Powers are already delegated to the regional assembly and other regional quango’s and some of these powers are proposed to be transferred to the city region)
  6. The detailed ‘rules’ for decision-taking within the City Region Board have not yet been established. However, like all voluntary partnerships, it is anticipated that the vast majority of decisions will be arrived at through consensus. It is likely that a final agreement will include reference to the distribution of votes between partners on the Board. However, no draft decision has yet been taken about this, or about the power of veto.

I hope this is helpful.

Gerry Dawson
Head of Regeneration & Economic Development
Environment & Regeneration
Borough of Telford & Wrekin

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