SENIOR Dudley Council leaders have admitted they don’t know just how much power will be wielded by the soon-to-be-elected new West Midlands Mayor.
The new metro mayor, who will head up the new West Midlands Combined Authority, will be elected on May 4.
Former John Lewis is in the running for the Conservatives for the top job, along with Labour’s Siôn Simon, UKIP’s Pete Durnell, Beverley Nielson for the Liberal Democrats and James Burn for the Green Party.
But concerns were raised about the powers that will be available to the successful candidate at a recent cabinet meeting where stalwart Tory councillor Anne Millward, former leader of Dudley Council, said: “We’re all going to be asked to vote but we’re not really sure what powers the Mayor is actually going to have.”
Councillor Pete Lowe, current leader of Dudley Council, said the only way to gain access to funding opportunities through the new combined authority was “with the imposition of the mayor” but he highlighted worries about just what responsibilities the holder of the post will possess further down the line.
He said: “There’s day one and how it will look after two years. Is there potential that the powers of the police and crime commissioner will be consumed into that role? My personal feeling is that it will do.”
Councillor David Sparks, another former leader of the authority, said: “It’s an open question as to who will win but, whoever wins, people around the Mayor will want that function to be as strong as possible so they have a gravitational pull in Westminster to boost mayorality.
“If we have a position where the Mayor has more and more power - there’ll be less and less power locally.”
And he warned: “If we’re not careful you’ll get Mayors all over the place with a damn site more power than we have got now.”