DUDLEY’S UKIP group has come out in vocal opposition to the West Midlands Combined Authority devolution deal, reissuing concerns about an “unaccountable and unwanted” elected mayor.

Pen was put to paper by the leaders of the seven local borough councils yesterday to formally agree to a £8b pact in return for agreeing to be run by a mayor.

UKIP group leader, Councillor Paul Brothwood, claims that when the suggestion of a ‘metro mayor’ was made last year it was lambasted, but has now come to fruition.

Cllr Brothwood said: “The latest WMCA plan has identified some concerning anti-business polices. Suggestions of raising business rates and introducing more nonsense eco-friendly levies to access EU funding will hamper local business.

“More worryingly, the unwanted metro mayor will gain compulsory purchase powers to push through potentially unwanted plans, such as the previous plan to build on the greenbelt in Halesowen.

“The WMCA will be used to prop up Birmingham’s failing council and help it make improvements which were recommended by the Kerslake Review.

“There will be no benefit to the people or businesses of the Black Country just a huge cost and a loss of local power.”

The proposed agreement with the Government will see the local authorities make an annual contribution of £40 million for 30 years to support an overall investment package worth £8 billion, with the money set to bolster more public transport, jobs, investment and housing in the borough.

Projects in Dudley include bringing brownfield sites back to use for housing or employment and £699 million investment into the proposed Midland Metro extension from Brierley Hill to Birmingham.

The move will link the borough up with the existing light rail system, as well as the Birmingham hub of HS2.

However, UKIP West Midlands MEP Bill Etheridge said there is already differing levels of investment emerging, with two new train stations being planned in Birmingham – one in the city centre and one near Birmingham Airport.

The Sedgley councillor said: “It was long feared that Birmingham would get the lion's share of the available funding and it hasn't taken long for that pattern to emerge.

“How can it be right that Birmingham is to get two new rail stations when Dudley has not had a rail link since the 1960's?

“Dudley Council told everyone that they had invested an equal share of money into the combined authority in order to get an equal share of the investment, so can we now anticipate two new stations for the borough?”