We refuse to be sucked up into 'Greater Birmingham', says Worcestershire County Council leader

8:00am Thursday 3rd July 2014

Exclusive By Tom Edwards

THE leader of Worcestershire County Council has taken a swipe at the Second City - saying he will refuse to be "sucked into Greater Birmingham".

Councillor Adrian Hardman has issued a rallying call to politicians across the county by insisting they must resist any attempts to create a controversial 'City region'.

Factions in the Coalition Government - including deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg - are keen for well-populated parts of the UK to be carved up into 'City' style regions to bid for larger pots of funding and take extra powers from Whitehall.

The idea, which was originally touted in Tony Blair's days, could have serious implications for Worcestershire as Birmingham is one area ministers are keen to effectively expand.

Mr Hardman has recently been in briefings with ministers who have made it clear changes could be afoot after the 2015 general election.

It is expected to focus on re-shaping Local Enterprise Partnerships, of which Worcestershire's is one of the smallest in the country.

On top of that, on Tuesday Lord Adonis published his long-awaited economic review for the Labour Party calling on greater devolution to large cities.

He said 'combined' councils should be given "serious responsibility" and hard cash for new houses, schools, roads and other massive infrastructure projects to take growth away from London and into other parts of the UK.

Cllr Hardman said: "I am clear that we must at all costs try and preserve a Worcestershire LEP and if we fail in this, then we would do everything in our power not to be sucked into the 'Greater Birmingham LEP'.

"At the moment the Greater Birmingham argument appears to be carrying more weight with ministers than anything else."

He told your Worcester News the county should not be used to try and "solve the problems" the Second City faces.

"We know there is this emphasis on 'City regions', there's nothing new in that, it's been around since Tony Blair's days but we've seen what Lord Adonis has now said," he said.

"Dudley used to be part of Worcestershire before we lost that, and so did Frankley, so we're used to losing chunks of the north of the county.

"But the answer to solving Birmingham's problems isn't to suck Worcestershire up into it."

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