Today’s Birmingham Post heralds new Government plans to take funding decisions away from mother-quango Advantage West Midlands and pass powers over to our local councils.
At first glance it looks as though a “senate” of West Midlands councils will replace the agency altogether, but it seems that they would actually be taking on a role that combines the scrutiny powers of the low-profile and soon to be defunct West Midlands Regional Assembly, with a more direct hand in how Advantage West Midlands spends their budget on our behalf.
These plans are, undoubtedly, a step in the right direction. Having AWM report to our councils at least re-establishes some semblance of democracy to the redistribution of the £300million of Treasury cash that our regional development agency currently controls.
So if these plans are realised and Advantage West Midlands has less influence over this budget – and therefore less power – will we see them cutting back on staff and salaries and becoming an altogether smaller enterprise? Indeed, can AWM not just be done away with entirely if our elected councils are to take control of the cash?
As it was only recently announced that Advantage West Midlands would be granted extra powers in the area, including decisions on planning, it’s doubtful that we’ll be seeing the back of them for a while. Nevertheless it’s heartening to hear of the Government proposing to take this large budget out of the hands of an unelected and wasteful body.
Without full power over their budget, Advantage West Midlands would certainly have a harder and harder time justifying their existence, and so we can only hope that these plans signal the end of the road for this money-guzzling quango.