Combined authority

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A combined authority is a type of local government institution introduced in England outside Greater London by the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009. There are currently five such authorities, with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority established on 1 April 2011, and four others established in April 2014. Combined authorities are created in areas where they are considered likely to improve transport, economic development and regeneration. Combined authorities are created voluntarily and allow a group of local authorities to pool appropriate responsibility and receive certain delegated functions from central government in order to deliver transport and economic policy more effectively over a wider area. Following the unsuccessful English mayoral referendums in 2012 combined authorities have been used as an alternative means to receive additional powers and funding as part of 'city deals' to metropolitan areas. A further combined authority is proposed for the West Midlands around Birmingham.

Powers and functions[edit]

The combined authority is a legally recognised entity able to assume the role of an integrated transport authority and economic prosperity board. This gives the combined authority the power to exercise any function of its constituent councils that relates to economic development and regeneration, and any of the functions that are available to integrated transport authorities. For transport purposes combined authorities are able to borrow money and can levy constituent authorities. The Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 allowed for certain function over transport to be delegated from central government. The Localism Act 2011 allowed an additional transfers of powers from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and gave combined authorities a general power of competence.[1][2] The powers and functions to be shared are agreed by the metropolitan district, non-metropolitan district, non-metropolitan county or unitary authority councils.

Process of creation or amendment[edit]

Combined authorities consist of two or more contiguous English local government areas. The creation of a combined authority is voluntary and all local authorities within the area must give their consent before it can be created.[3] The local authority of any district of England outside Greater London can join a combined authority and a county council can become part of a combined authority even if only some of the non-metropolitan districts that make up the county are within the combined authority area. A local authority may only belong to one combined authority.[4]

There are three stages to the creation or amendment of a combined authority. Firstly a review must be undertaken to establish the likelihood that a combined authority would improve:

"...the exercise of statutory functions relating to transport in the area, the effectiveness and efficiency of transport in the area, the exercise of statutory functions relating to economic development and regeneration in the area, and economic conditions in the area."

—Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009, Part 6[5]

On completion of the review the local authorities produce and publish a proposed scheme of the combined authority to be created, including the area that will be covered, the constitution and functions. This will include details of membership of the authority, remuneration, and how meetings will be chaired and recorded. Following a period of consultation and subject to the approval of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the combined authority is formally created, dissolved or altered by a statutory instrument.

Combined authorities[edit]

The combined authorities that have been created or are planned to be established are as follows.[6] Following the unsuccessful English mayoral referendums in 2012, new combined authorities were encouraged as an alternative structure to receive additional powers and funding as part of 'city deals'.[7]

Statutory name Adopted name Constituent authorities Status
Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield Combined Authority Sheffield City Region Combined Authority Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham, Sheffield Established 1 April 2014[8]
Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle Upon Tyne, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland Combined Authority North East Combined Authority Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside, Sunderland Established 15 April 2014[9]
Greater Manchester Combined Authority Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Manchester, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan Established 1 April 2011[10]
Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral Combined Authority Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens, Wirral Established 1 April 2014[11]
West Yorkshire Combined Authority Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, Wakefield Established 1 April 2014[12]

It is proposed that a combined authority should be formed around Birmingham in the West Midlands.[13]

See also[edit]