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New local growth plans to harness the West Midlands’ potential as Prime Minister hosts Mayors in Downing Street

Published: Tuesday 09 Jul 2024

Plans to reignite the untapped potential of the West Midlands and hand leaders more power were set out at the first ever, cross party mayoral meeting held in 10 Downing Street.

Joined by England metro mayors, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister set out their ambitions for each leader to deliver economic growth working hand-in-hand with central government to benefit local people.

They confirmed that Mayors will be backed with new powers over planning, skills, employment support and transport; along with integrated funding settlements to leaders who demonstrate exemplary handling of public money.

During the first-of-its kind meeting, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister reaffirmed their belief that Mayors have the vital local knowledge, capacity or flexibility needed to take advantage of every opportunity.

Mayors will also develop Local Growth Plans which will help harness local strengths and deliver new opportunities, unblocking things standing in the way of tapping the potential that exists.

Mayors including London's Sadiq Khan and West Midland Mayor Richard Parker at meeting, sitting across table from the the Prime Minster

Richard Parker, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “I am pleased that the Government recommitted to supporting our regions and ensuring they thrive.

“My ambition is that the West Midlands will be the best place to live, to learn and to do business. It is only by devolving powers and giving flexibility of funding – true devolution – that we can have real impact for our residents.

“With greater flexibility in our funding, I will deliver a social housing revolution for the region, support our businesses to grow and ensure our residents have the skills they need to access jobs and opportunities brought about through growth.

“The public voted for a change in the West Midlands, and then they voted for a change nationally. Now it’s time for us to deliver, together.”

Prime Minister Keir Starmer said: “Every part of the West Midlands has a vital contribution to make to the economy. For too long working people in this proud region have been ignored by Westminster, which has been more preoccupied by slogans than delivering the change to transform peoples’ lives.  

“This stops today. My commitment to growth isn’t just a saying – the foundations of government require a fundamental rethink to create a real partnership with partners to unlock economic growth in the West Midlands.  

“As I said to the mayor of the West Midlands, Richard Parker, we will refocus our efforts to break down the inequalities which hold growth back, restore the trust of our communities and creating jobs and opportunity across the country.”  

England's metro mayors line up next to a red London double decker bus

The Deputy Prime Minister will write to all Mayors reiterating the need to work together to develop proposals to boost growth and other opportunities.

A key part of the roundtable focused on resetting the relationship between central and regional governments, focusing on public service, respect and collaboration, along with the early steps needed to unlock economic growth and tackle regional inequality.

The Deputy Prime Minister also reiterated the government’s commitment to widening devolution to more areas, encouraging more local authorities to come together and take on new powers.

Mayors can play an important role in advocating for the benefits of devolution and showing the impact they have been able to make with expanded powers.

The government will also establish a Council of Nations and Regions bringing together the Prime Minister, the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales, the First and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, and the Mayors of Combined Authorities.

Deputy Prime Minister Angela Rayner said: “From being at the heart of the Industrial Revolution to taking a leading role of devolution, the West Midlands has a proud history of driving this country forward – and we want them to take a starring role in our push for growth.

“We want to relight the fire of our regions to drive growth in every part of this country, and to do this properly we need people who know their areas best to have their say.

“That’s why it’s so important we work hand-in-hand with our Mayors to harness the potential of our towns and cities, tackle regional inequalities and make a difference to people’s lives.

“But I want to take devolution even further and expand our offer to other areas – and I invite local leaders from parts of England without a mayor to come forward and speak to us about how we can work with you to transform your regions.”

The meeting marked the start of a new partnership between mayors and government, opening the door to a new structure for vital ongoing engagement.

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