‘Devolve more powers to Surrey’ council leader tells government

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COUNTIES need to be included in the Government’s plans to offer more devolved powers to regions, the leader of Surrey County Council has said

 

By Dorking Advertiser  |  Posted: June 02, 2015

 David Hodge

David Hodge said the devolution plans introduced by George Osborne to give control over housing, transport, planning and policing to cities like Manchester, need to be given to areas like Surrey.

The chancellor’s Cities Devolution Bill forms part of his plans for a “Northern Powerhouse” with Greater Manchester identified as one of the key areas.

Under the new devolution plans, areas would keep their local councils but would also elect a Mayor.

The devolved region would then receive new powers and controls including business support budgets, devolved funding for bus and concessionary travel and would receive government funding and get to decide how to use it rather than bidding for funds on a project by project base.

The lower level councils would retain the same powers while the new Mayor would have powers over, transport, planning, housing and policing.

But Conservative council leader Hodge has called for the plans to not be limited to city regions and said counties would be able to offer benefits to the entire country if they were given more control over their own affairs.

In a speech to the council the chairman of the County Councils Network – a group of 37 County Councils and Unitary authorities – said it was time to end the top down solutions being passed down by central government.

“I believe devolution must extend to county areas as well as city regions. There can be no one size fits all approach to devolution,” he said.

“Top down centralised solutions will not work, instead we must develop the right solution for Surrey to allow Surrey’s economy to grow strongly with greater opportunity for all and it will allow us to support the wider region of the South East, London and the UK as a whole and deliver services our residents need.

“My message to government is simple. The residents and businesses of Surrey are already for devolution. A prosperous and expanding economy is good for the UK, good for jobs, good for apprenticeships and it’s really good for the treasury.”

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