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Bid made for more power for Essex

Politics / Tue 8th Sep 2015 at 08:48am

COUNCIL’S across Greater Essex have submitted a joint bid to Government setting out their ambition for devolved powers.

Signed by all 15 authorities, including Essex County Council and unitary authorities Southend and Thurrock, the bid sets out how by working together, with increased freedoms and flexibilities from government Greater Essex can:

Create the fastest growing economy outside London, increasing economic output from £32.5b to £60b and increasing exports by 100%

Meet the housing needs set out within local plans, with greater quality and reliability of delivery
Develop key transport hubs such as London Stansted, Southend Airport and port clusters in the north and south of Essex.

Create a new infrastructure fund working alongside housing and economic growth strategies, so that wherever possible infrastructure is in place before new development.

Increase by 20% the number of higher apprenticeships completed, focussing on growth sectors such as aviation, logistics, and medical technologies.

Enter into a gainshare agreement with Government in which additional revenues generated through local growth would be shared between local and national partners, helping pay for infrastructure and services.

Cllr David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council said: “For too long the decisions which impact on the needs and aspirations of the people and businesses in Essex have been taken in Whitehall. With our local knowledge and democratic accountability we can do better.

“Our ambition is for Greater Essex to become the fastest growing UK economy outside London, that delivers the opportunity of a high quality standard of living for our residents, with increased and accelerated local and national dividends which are re-invested into world-class public services and infrastructure.

“This is an opportunity to become a true economic powerhouse, whilst collectively having a greater say on the issues that matter to all Essex residents. The aims we have set out are ambitious, but achievable and are underpinned by a new approach to investment which will enable us to become increasingly self-sufficient of government grant.”

The bid also outlines how the powers would be governed, with a ‘Combined Authority’ running alongside economic growth boards.

Nicola Beach, Chief Executive of Braintree District Council speaking on behalf of the Greater Essex Partnership, added: “A combined authority is a strategic body running alongside existing councils and is made up of representatives from each Council.

“Given the diverse nature of the Greater Essex economies, it is important we have an approach that supports our natural economic markets, whether they are rural, coastal, the Thames Gateway, commuter belt or part of the London-Cambridge corridor.

“Creating a bespoke Combined Authority alongside our strategic growth areas will allow for greater collaboration across Essex on the big issues. We will be submitting further detail on implementation in the coming weeks, and if successful this would see the formation of a legally binding deal in the New Year.”

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