The government is offering to devolve powers and decision-making to regional areas, and as a result the different council leaders in Essex – including Essex CC , Southend and Thurrock – have been talking about working together.
The first thing to say is that there has been no discussion at our Full Council about this yet.
The second is that nothing has been officially agreed yet and the plans don’t involve merging councils. Our chief executive Amar Dave has written to us to say:
The third is that the plans involve creating a “Combined Authority” that would consist of the leaders of the 15 authorities, as a sort of super-politburo that could make decisions. According to a joint letter from all the council leaders :
Our county needs more infrastructure, and maybe this is a way of getting the government to fund more infrastructure (even in a time of Conservative austerity)? But forgive us for being suspicious, this “Combined Authority” could very possibly be used to force through unpopular decisions on individual parts of Essex. We also note that some existing? bodies – County Highways, the Essex Fire and Rescue Service and the South Essex Planning Partnership – aren’t beacons of success.
The fourth point is that the letter points to? increased housebuilding, and new infrastructure through private sector investment. That could mean toll roads, or roads funded by new housing:
Anyway, this is the full letter that the various council leaders have sent to the government: