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West Midlands mayor Andy Street rules out precept until 2020

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West Midlands CA mayor Andy Street (Con) has ruled out the prospect of introducing a precept until at least 2020.

Mr Street said he has been able to make the commitment, following a failed attempt to introduce a levy last year, due to the fact he has been able to secure investment from elsewhere.

Tees Valley CA mayor Ben Houchen (Con) previously ruled out ever levying a precept during his term until May 2020 and Mr Street has now joined him. The commitment takes both mayors up to the time they are due for re-election.

Mr Street said: “I am delighted that I have been able to give this commitment not to increase bills for council taxpayers in the West Midlands.

“The West Midlands has come together to bring in more money from government and is looking to attract private sector investment. As we leave the EU, we will push to secure funding which is coming back from Brussels. We are also working hard to keep costs as low as possible.”

Combined authority mayors are able to add a precept on to regular council tax bills to help invest in infrastructure projects and fund the costs associated with running their office.

Mr Street’s commitment is based on the fact his region has won more than £1.7bn government funding since May 2017, securing “potential deals” with investors to help pay for transport projects, and an assumption the West Midlands will gain control over its share of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund which will replace European funding after Brexit.

Earlier this month Mr Street joined the other elected mayors in a call for the promised shared prosperity fund to be devolved to regions.

Last year Mr Street was forced to abandon an attempt to introduce a precept that would have raised about £7.5m after Labour leaders on the combined authority refused to back the proposals.

While a decision about introducing a precept was deferred earlier this year, the region has since won even more backing from government. Yesterday, for example, it was announced in the Budget that the West Midlands would receive an extra £71.5m for transport projects through the transforming cities fund.

The West Midlands CA said it has funded the running of the mayor’s office through the mayoral capacity fund (worth £12m) and extra income gained from an increase in business rate receipts.

Out of all the elected mayors, only Greater Manchester CA mayor Andy Burnham and London mayor Sadiq Khan (both Lab) raised precepts last year.

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