Councillors under fire for lack of public consultation over combined authority

Rugby Borough Councillors will discuss the situation on October 8
Rugby Borough Councillors will discuss the situation on October 8

Councillors have come under fire for failing to question voters before completely rejecting ties with a new West Midlands combined authority.

Conservative-led Warwickshire County Council voted to opt out of negotiations with emphasis on try to instead preserve links with Coventry.

Labour - the second biggest group on the council - was the only party to object to the no vote, calling for more debate and criticising a complete lack of public consultation.

Both the county and its district councils can vote on the move, but Stratford is the only so far to ask its residents.

Cllr Matt Western (Lab, Leam) said: “Warwickshire County Council did not bother to ask the public, but Stratford did.

“Why are people being denied the chance to have their say? The debate was about exploring possibilities with the West Midlands and when it comes to economic development and infrastructure, we must be at the table”.

Cllr Alan Webb, (Lab, Brownsover) added: “All of the other parties seem to be in denial in that Coventry do not want to join a Coventry and Warwickshire only authority.

“We believe there should be a wide public consultation on all options but the other parties voted to exclude the main option being offered, namely the West Midlands Combined Authority, including Coventry, from this consultation.”

Cllr Izzi Seccombe leader of Warwickshire County Council said public debate was not possible, but that officers had explored the best interests of the region.

Rugby Borough Council leader Michael Stokes told the Advertiser last week that the authority remained in discussions and negotiations to fully understand the implications of opting in or out of a combined authority.

Rugby Borough Council will meet to discuss the issue and make a decision on October 8.