Talks on second devolution deal to begin “immediately”

Business Secretary Greg Clark has revealed the Government will begin talks “immediately” with the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) about a second devolution deal.

Any deal would build on the first deal signed in November 2015, which resulted in the election of Conservative candidate and former Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP chairman Andy Street as the first mayor of the West Midlands.

It also provides for £1.1bn over a 30-year period – averaging at £36.7m a year.

Street – who as Mayor is the chairman of the WMCA – wrote to the Government earlier this month setting out his proposals for further devolution of powers, which included increased powers around skills and property.

Speaking at the University of Birmingham, where he launched the Government’s investment into battery research, Clark said he wants to create “a further devolution package that will ensure [Andy Street] and the WMCA have the powers they need”.

He said: “Andy Street and I have always believed that the West Midlands devolution deal that created the Mayoralty should be the foundation, not the end, of further empowerment of the region.”

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “As a region we have been forthright in our message to Government that we want to continue the process of devolution in order to deliver jobs, improved wages and prosperity.

“We have therefore acted quickly to put our proposals to Government. Today’s response from the Secretary of State is excellent news and we look forward to the negotiations.

“We’re determined that this process will help release the potential of this region and demonstrate that it is ‘our time’.”