Lewes and Wealden councils back calls for more powers at local level

The leader of Lewes District Council has welcomed news the Government is moving to devolve powers to local areas.

Councillor Rob Blackman supported the announcement, made in the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday, May 27.

He said: “Lewes District is well-placed to make the most of the devolution offer. We are part of the Greater Brighton City Deal, are working closely with Eastbourne Borough Council and East Sussex County Council and are an active member of two Local Enterprise Partnerships.

“We know our local population well and are able to respond to their needs, while working with our partners to achieve economies of scale.”

The case was argued that devolving powers from Whitehall to county council level will enable a more co-ordinated approach to delivering better services for residents, improving the economy, and attracting more investment.

Proposed changes could see local authorities have more fiscal autonomy, and additional responsibilities relating to road and rail infrastructure, health and social care, and employment.

Councillor Bob Standley, leader of Wealden District Council, said: “In line with the Localism Act, Wealden District Council supports decisions being made at the lowest practicable level. This can be by transferring powers from Whitehall to county councils but can also mean a transfer from county to district councils.

“There are areas of responsibility where district councils have a much better grasp of the local issues and would be the most appropriate organisation to make decisions. The track record of authorities such as Wealden show we can responsibly manage public resources for the wider benefit of our communities.”

Councillor Keith Glazier, leader of East Sussex County Council, said: “East Sussex County Council is committed to working with Se7 to build a case for the devolution of powers from central government to local authorities.

“We want decisions about how services are delivered made closer to the people affected by those decisions, and believe that this will enable us to deliver better public services in a more democratic way.

“With greater control over budgets and the way in which services are delivered, we can help to grow the local economy and encourage greater investment in our county.”

Recent research shows seven councils in the South East alone produced more than £133 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA) in 2012 – making them the third largest contributor to the UK’s economy with more active enterprises than the whole of Scotland.

The work emphasises potential benefits of devolution and the need for central government to change.

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