On 7 November 2014, Council leaders from the four Black Country councils and Birmingham announced an agreement in principle to work as a Combined Authority.
The key purpose of the Combined Authority is to create a framework to drive growth by improving the regional transport infrastructure and boosting economic investment and development.
The Black Country Local Authorities invited Birmingham City Council to join them in creating a Combined Authority, having already established the Black Country Joint Committee.
The Joint Committee comprises the four leaders of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton City councils as voting members and the chair of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership as a non voting member. The Committee provides a streamlined decision-making process for the Black Country City Deal and Growth Deal.
The Black Country and Birmingham leaders are fully committed to forming a Combined Authority and have invited other councils to join in the creation of the Authority including Solihull and Coventry.
Following this announcement, Stewart Towe, chairman of the Black Country LEP called for closer working between LEPs.
"We are not talking about a merger of the LEPs; we need to keep the very successful local teams working hard as they have been since they started. If we are to respond to the increasing requirements of the major political parties to deal with a combined local authority that covers the entire West Midlands, then clearly the LEPs will have to create a structure that can match that. It doesn't mean that we are going to merge the LEPs. It means that we will be able to work together more closely, aligning our geography to that of the Combined Authority."