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Counties back pledges to scrap ‘arbitrary’ mayors for devo deals

County councils have welcomed the decision taken by the three main political parties to drop plans that would stop areas without a directly elected mayor asking for devolution deals.

In a statement released by the County Councils Network (CCN), the organisation said it fully supported the decision from the Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems to not include the idea in their manifestos.

The CCN said that a requirement for devolved areas to have a directly elected mayor was “arbitrary, unnecessary, and unwanted by residents,” as they also promised to continue to push Whitehall for more powers for local regions.

Recently, it has been reported that the pace of devolution had slowed down, and the change in policy by the three parties will be seen as a step in the right direction for securing more devolution deals to the regions.

“CCN has long argued that the requirement for a directly elected mayor in devolution deals is arbitrary, unnecessary, and unwanted by county residents,” said director of the CCN, Simon Edwards. “CCN welcomes the three main parties dropping this requirement in each of their manifestos, which removes a major blockade in driving down powers to rural England.”

The CCN’s call also comes just after Labour claimed to be the “party of devolution,” as it announced its plans for the country it its manifesto.

And this will be a move that the CCN welcome, as Edwards asserted that the desire for devolution from county authorities was still strong.  “Despite debates becoming bogged down over governance in county areas, county authorities’ desire for ambitious devolution deals that bring fresh powers and funding to the heart of their local communities has never diminished,” he stated.

But the CCN said it supported plans laid out in the Conservative manifesto for devolution. “Importantly, the Conservative manifesto has committed to an open and transparent framework for devolution, which CCN has long called for,” he explained.

“Our members look forward to working with whichever government is in charge on a new chapter for devolution that genuinely empowers England’s counties based on the strong local leadership and county geographies already in place.”

Edwards added that the CCN also supported the three main parties’ commitment to address local government funding concerns, adding “we will continue to advocate a fairer funding deal for counties, based on current and future demand for services”.

And following the metro mayors being elected into office earlier this month, a number of the leaders announced their leadership teams last week, including the West Midlands and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayors.

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