West Midlands County Council: The birth and death of a county people never took to heart
Interesting read here:
It is 35 years since the former West Midlands County Council was abolished, and the whole experience still leaves a bitter taste in the mouth for Black Country historian and author Tom Larkin.
"It was a total disaster, and very costly to taxpayers and ratepayers," he says.
"It replaced a system of local government which had served the people well for years, just because that is what people in London wanted."
West Midlands County Council, or 'the metro' as it became known, only lasted for 12 years, and people never really took it to their hearts, the April Fool's Day launch marking just the beginning of a series of public relations blunders which would dog the authority throughout its brief life.
Prior to the shake-up, Walsall, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton had, for centuries, been part of Staffordshire, while Dudley had – until it joined Staffordshire in 1966 – been part of Worcestershire. And when these ancient counties were carved up to bring their largest towns and cities together in one new 'super county', there were many who were not happy.
It's the conclusion of this article I just want to briefly comment on:
Despite assurances to the contrary, there are many who wonder whether the West Midlands Combined Authority, launched in 2016, will eventually morph into a new version of the county council.
The difference as I see it is that the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is already a new version of the old county council, but with the exception of the Metro Mayor, it has NO elected officials, ie councillors.
And it can be argued that the 'elected' Mayor is just a figurehead, a puppet, a nod to the 'idea' that this is all somehow democratic. The appointed technocrats behind the scenes out of public view are the ones really pulling the strings, and no doubt pushing the same agenda as before...