Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham 'could get elected mayor', Osborne says

George Osborne Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption George Osborne said talks would need to take place with Birmingham's civic leaders and MPs

Chancellor George Osborne has indicated Birmingham could get an elected mayor to preside over the city.

His comments came after Greater Manchester's 10 councils agreed to the creation of a so-called "metro mayor" earlier this week.

But Mr Osborne stopped short of suggesting a figurehead for the entire West Midlands region.

Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore said he "welcomed the chancellor's interest".

The council said it had been holding talks regarding the creation of a combined authority with other local boroughs, which currently have their own separately-governed councils.

'Economic powerhouse'

Mr Osborne said talks would need to take place with Birmingham's civic leaders and MPs over which plan to pursue.

He added the move to a mayoral model could be "perhaps just in the city", off the back of proposals to give cities greater freedoms and more powers.

During Treasury questions, Edgbaston Labour MP Gisela Stuart asked the chancellor what he regarded as the "optimum size" for metropolitan areas.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Birmingham and its surrounding boroughs currently have their own local authorities
Image copyright PA
Image caption Birmingham is said to be Europe's largest local authority

"In the West Midlands would you look for a greater Birmingham and the Black Country metropolitan area or for the entire West Midlands?" she said.

Mr Osborne said he did not think "any one area is the same as any other area".

"There was a specific model for Greater Manchester and the Greater Manchester councils have worked well together as a combined authority," he added.

"Clearly Birmingham City Council is much larger than Manchester City Council alone."

Sir Albert has previously said a combined West Midlands authority is the best way forward for the region.

"We are in the process of developing proposals for a combined authority that will represent an economic powerhouse to rival that of Greater Manchester and the North," he said.

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