Laura Sharman 15 June 2015

Council rules out combined authority referendum

Coventry City Council has ruled out holding a referendum on its decision to consider joining the West Midlands combined authority, saying it would be too expensive and difficult to organise in the timeframe available.

Under the proposals, Coventry would join councils from the three Local Enterprise areas of Coventry and Warwickshire, Birmingham and Solihull, and the Black Country councils in a new combined authority.

Some residents have expressed concerns the plans would see Coventry lose its identity and sovereignty. However, a report has found holding a referendum on the issue would be too costly and complex.

The council has confirmed it will be staging a ‘major engagement programme’ instead, including public meetings, drop-in sessions and web forums.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Ann Lucas said: ‘The Government has made it clear we have to move at speed on this issue if we’re not going to fall behind the rest of the country, so we haven’t had the time to explain the details as fully as we would have liked. That work needs to start in earnest over the next few weeks so we can start to allay peoples’ fears about a Birmingham takeover

‘The answer isn’t a referendum – the chancellor has made it clear we don’t need one and it would be difficult and expensive to organise in the time allowed to us to consult Coventry people.'

A final report will be delivered to the council in September.

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