The ongoing focus on mayors should not be allowed to derail a future devolution deal, Essex County Council leader David Finch has said.
Essex leaders have been meeting for the last 18 months to develop a countywide deal, but in a letter to Essex MPs, Cllr Finch highlighted frustration that the narrow focus of the elected mayor debate was hindering progress.
Cllr Finch said: “Government have indicated that the expected price of devolution is an elected mayor, and we are seeing council leaders up and down the country debating this point.
“This has understandably caused debate across county areas where the role and remit of a mayor is less clearly defined than in a city region, where to date devolution deals have been focussed.
“It is understandable that this debate has continued, but I have outlined to MPs that this is hampering progress, when the focus should be on the real challenges and opportunities that face our businesses and communities, and the significant benefits to residents that a deal could bring around housing, transport and infrastructure, all of which tie in to economic growth.”
“I hope moving forward that the Government will provide more clarity around this requirement, to enable us to progress more swiftly, and also to fully explain to residents how and what an elected mayor looks like in a county area if this is the price of a deal.”