Council call to devolve more powers to Essex

Politics / Fri 17th Oct 2014 at 05:32pm

CALLS to devolve more powers to Essex have been made to the Government in a debate in County Hall today, after a motion was passed by Essex County Council.

Councillors voted through the motion moved by Leader, Cllr David Finch, calling for a fairer deal for Essex.

In it, the council calls upon the Government to deliver:

Devolution of powers to Essex local authorities
Fair and consistent funding of public services for the residents of Essex
Fairer representation at Westminster for Essex MPs
Cllr Finch said: “There is a wind of change in English local government, caused by the offer of further devolved powers made to Scotland before the yes/no vote on the 18th September this year.

“Indeed, the promise of powers and greater financial freedoms for England has been made by all three political parties, and we in Essex must grasp the opportunity to benefit our residents by lobbying for greater freedoms.

“We must act now, and we must collaborate with other councils and local government bodies to make sure the opportunity is not lost.”

Cllr Finch supported the suggestion English MPs should be voting on English issues.

He also questioned why certain powers shouldn’t be devolved to Essex County Council and the other local authorities in the UK. Examples for Essex included a share of passenger duty from the county’s airport (Stansted), skills funding, business rate retention, the establishment of growth areas and freedom to merge Department for Work and Pensions services and council services.

Finally, he questioned the fairness of Essex residents paying for tuition fees, NHS car park charges and prescription charges, while they are free for residents of Scotland.

He concluded: “Give us the freedom and flexibility to decide whether we can or want to vary these and other services.

“We want a fair deal for Essex residents. We ask the opposition to put aside party politics, and to vote for the motion which seeks to bring benefits to Essex residents.”

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