I hope you don't mind me asking you to support me even more by discussing and sharing this with as many people as you can and asking them to sign the petition. If you want to do this, the short website address for the campaign is https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/coventry. You could also contact your own Ward Councillors direct to let them know your views. All the Ward Councillors and their contact details can be found at http://www.coventry.gov.uk/councillors/name.
There has been a lot of coverage in the local newspapers and on local radio about the proposals to join the new Greater Birmingham and Black Country combined authority. Simon Gilbert of the Coventry Telegraph has written a number of articles which are worth reading and I will post links to these on the Campaign website. The Campaign has been mentioned in news bulletins on Free Radio and BBC Coventry & Warwickshire, and I'm being interviewed by Shane O'Connor on his Breakfast Show on BBC Coventry & Warwickshire at 7:05 tomorrow morning (Tuesday 25 May).
The current position is that an emergency Coventry City Council Cabinet meeting has been called for this Thursday (28 May 2015) at 12:00 noon in the Council House specifically on "Devolution and Economic Growth - A Combined Authority for the West Midlands".
The papers for this meeting include the following recommendations:
*Agree in principle to create a combined authority with a preferred option of councils from Coventry and Warwickshire (and Hinckley and Bosworth) with councils from the Greater Birmingham and Solihull and the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership areas
Delegate authority to the Leader of the Council with the Chief Executive to enter negotiation and discussions on a potential devolution deal so that proposals can be considered by full Council in due course.
*Allocate a budget of up to £250,000 to facilitate engagement with residents, local businesses, the city’s Universities and other key partners and undertake and strengthen the economic analysis required to inform the work on a devolution deal.
Although recommendation (2) means that the proposals may be considered by the full Council in the future, all the discussions and negotiations will be handled by just two people, an elected councillor and an unelected council employee. My concern is that this still does not give Coventry residents a voice at a really vital stage, and that these important discussions will still take place behind closed doors. We will have the chance to vote in a referendum on staying in Europe. The Greater Birmingham proposals will, arguably, have a greater impact on our daily lives than membership of the European Union. So surely a vote on the Greater Birmingham proposals is even more necessary.
I am hoping to attend this meeting, although I won't be able to speak, and I'll report what happens on the Campaign website.
ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN
This is NOT an anti Birmingham campaign. Birmingham is a fantastic place and we are lucky to be so geographically close to the Second City. This is NOT an anti Councillor Lucas campaign. Our councillors have been elected following due democratic processes. This is NOT about party politics. This campaign is about giving us full information on ALL the options, their benefits and disadvantages, as quickly as possible. And then demonstrating proper democracy by allowing us to decide on proposals which will have a significant impact on Coventry and its residents for years to come.
AND FINALLY..... Please keep discussing and sharing. GIVE COVENTRY A VOICE - AND A CHOICE!