Calls for a new West Midlands super-council grew this week as the leaders of Sandwell and Wolverhampton councils both backed plans for new combined authority.
Wolverhampton Council leader Roger Lawrence told MPs he expected Birmingham and the Black Country to begin work on a combined authority this year.
And Darren Cooper, leader of Sandwell Council in the Black Country, told the Birmingham Post: “If we don’t do it, we’re going to fall behind the other regions.”
A new region-wide council, which is also backed by Birmingham City Council, could be named “Greater Birmingham”.
But the region risks being left behind the great cities of the North - which are already creating combined authorities which they hope will attract investment from both central government and the private sector.
New combined authorities will begin operating on April 1 in West Yorkshire including Leeds and Bradford, the North East including Newcastle and Gateshead, the Sheffield area and Merseyside.
They have been inspired by the success of the Greater Manchester area, where ten councils have a long history of working closely together, an arrangement formalised by the creation of a Greater Manchester Combined Authority in 2011.
Speaking to the Birmingham Post, Coun Cooper said: “We should have a combined authority for the West Midlands metropolitan authorities, which will be a very powerful grouping of local authorities.
“We need to demonstrate to people that we are together and we have lacked that for many years.”
He added: “The West Midlands has been hit particularly hard by this recession, and we need to demonstrate to business and to the Government that we are together.”
The comments followed a House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee hearing - where Coun Lawrence told MPs: “There’s certainly a case for a West Midlands combined authority . . . and we believe that there may be an opportunity in the next six months or 12 months to pursue that even more.”
A combined authority could oversee transport and economic policy.
Government Ministers have made it clear they would be more likely to give West Midland councils control over key services such as help for jobseekers, training and transport, as well as the right to raise money from local taxes, if they create a combined authority.