The following was in tonight’s Shropshire Star:
Claims City Region costs won’t be fair
People in Telford will be paying on average substantially more towards the controversial West Midlands City Region than their counterparts in Birmingham, campaigners claimed today.
The operating cots of the city region will be divided into 10 equal shares – meaning the one million residents of Birmingham will pay the same £37,000 bill as Telford’s population of just 160,000.
Critics say this is an unfair burden for Telford and an illustration of how public money is being wasted on what it claims is an unelected quango.
Details of the costs have been obtained through a Freedom of Information request by West Midlands NO!, a campaign founded by Telford man Stuart Parr.
He said, “The city region will not be funded on a pro-rata basis as previously thought, but by simply dividing the costs into 10 equal shares.
“This means, for example, Birmingham’s one million residents will be collectively paying the same £37,026 contribution to the running costs of the city region as the 160,000 residents of Telford.
“This is hardly a fair distribution, especially when Birmingham City Council openly admits that Birmingham will benefit most from the city region.”
Mr Parr said Telford & Wrekin Council was also expecting to spend at least £77,000 monitoring and working with the city region and had set aside another £100,000 for costs associated with membership.
He said no cost/benefit analysis of city region membership had been conducted.
“This just confirms what we’ve been saying all along – the city region will be run by Birmingham for the benefit of Birmingham and the rest of us will be paying for it,” he said.
Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet recently voted formally to join the city region limited company, with Councillor Andrew Eade, council leader, being appointed a director.
Councillor Eade has repeatedly expressed scepticism about the city region and has come under fire from political opponents for joining up. He told full council last week he still believed it was “regionalisation by stealth” but felt he had to protect Telford’s interests.