The Government has said it is looking at a proposal by three South East county councils for greater devolution.

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Devolution call by South East councils

Seven Sisters cliffs and sheepThe councils want to retain more of the taxes raised locally

Surrey, West Sussex and East Sussex County Councils wrote a joint letter to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, asking for a transfer of power.

They want to retain more tax raised locally and have a greater say on road and rail infrastructure decisions.

The government said it would respond to the letter in due course.

Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council, said: “I do think devolution is the future for local government.

“It will allow us to deal with those difficult issues so much better if we have greater powers and freedoms.”

‘Unleash economic potential’

Keith Glazier, leader of East Sussex County Council, said more autonomy would help the councils “grow the local economy”.

And David Hodge, who is the leader of Surrey County Council, said the “local expertise” it possessed would mean local services “fit for the future”.

In response, Greg Clark, who is the secretary of state, said the government was determined to move power from Whitehall to local people.

He said: “We will only unleash the full economic potential of our country if we transfer powers to local leaders, businesses and people who know their area best.

“Our door is open to all proposals from any local authority, county or city region keen to embrace devolved powers.”

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