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May urged to work with councils as she takes office

The new prime minister Theresa May should work with councils to improve services and promote growth, the County Councils Network (CCN) said as she took office.

May, the former home secretary, became leader of the Conservative Party and prime minister last night, replacing David Cameron, who resigned following the UK’s vote to leave the EU.

She announced last night that the Queen had invited her to form a government, pledging: “We will make Britain a country that works, not for the privileged few, but for every one of us.”

Cllr Paul Carter, chair of the CCN, said: “CCN congratulates Theresa May on becoming the new prime minister, and we very much look forward to working with the new cabinet.

“In what could be a significant period of change over the next few years, county authorities are well placed to offer the stability required in local communities post Brexit, offering solutions to tackle the nation’s biggest challenges going forward, such as health and social care integration, economic and housing growth, as well as pressures on school places and access to GPs.

“Joined-up public services, including health, transport, strategic planning, and skills, deliver significant efficiencies and improved outcomes for both residents and businesses.

“We will work with government to safeguard and grow county economies, which account for 41% of England's GVA. County services and partnerships must be harnessed and empowered to promote to promote enterprise and job creation.

“We welcome the prime minister saying she wishes to lead a government for the whole of the UK. The voice of county authorities, who represent 25 million people, must be recognised as a significant part of this country.”

Cllr Carter added that devolution within England “has even more importance” following the EU referendum result, echoing yesterday’s remarks from former business secretary Sir Vince Cable at the annual CIPFA conference.

Greg Clark MP, the communities and local government secretary, has pledged to continue the devolution programme following the referendum result, although it is not known if he will keep his office in May’s cabinet reshuffle.

May’s appointment is ‘reassuring’, says LGA

Lord Porter, Conservative chair of the LGA, also welcomed May to the top job, saying her previous posts make her well-suited to work with local government.

“I would like to offer my warm congratulations to Theresa May on her election as the leader of the Conservative Party and her appointment as prime minister,” he said.

“For those of us involved in local government, it is reassuring in these uncertain times that someone who has previously served as a councillor and as a shadow secretary of state for local government has assumed the highest office in the land.

“As home secretary for the past six years, Theresa has worked closely with the LGA on a number of important issues, including high profile engagement with us over the past 12 months in relation to the resettlement of Syrian refugees.”

Following May’s appointment, the LGA Labour group and trade union Unite announced that they had renewed their joint pledge to oppose cuts to local government funding, warning they are likely to continue under the new prime minister.

Mark Rogers, president of Solace, has also written to May urging her to “accelerate” the devolution agenda.

PSE will provide full coverage of May’s appointment as she unveils her new cabinet and policies.

(Image c. Stefan Rousseau from PA Wire and Press Association Images)

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