There has been a lot of press coverage and public interest recently for the idea of a Town Council for Sutton Coldfield. As Liberal Democrats, we are in favour of devolution and of political decisions being made as close as possible to the people they affect. That's why we were not in favour of an elected mayor for Birmingham as that concentrated power too much in one person's hands at the political centre. That's why we are against moving meetings of the Sutton Coldfield District Committee away from Sutton Town Hall and into central Birmingham making it more difficult for local residents to attend and participate.
But there's a lot we don't yet know about the proposals for a Sutton Town Council within the city of Birmingham. Mainly, exactly what its powers would be. What responsibilities would the Town Council take from District and Ward committees and how would the role of those committees change? How would the councillors be elected? How many would there be? Would Sutton have its own Mayor? How much would it all cost, or could there even be a saving to Birmingham Council?
And, crucially, how would the new tier of government help improve life for residents and promote Sutton Coldfield over and above the political arrangements we have now?
To Liberal Democrats, the idea of a Town Council for Sutton Coldfield sounds attractive. It should help improve political participation, bring decision-making closer to local people, help restore more of a sense of community and local identity and - if it works properly - make Sutton Coldfield a better place to live. We still need more facts about the details but we certainly give the debate our strong support and wish the supporters of this attempt to devolve political power well.