Leicestershire announces combined authority to make devolution bid

Council leaders in Leicestershire have announced proposals to create a combined authority to work together on major regional issues including economic growth, transport and planning.

Leicester’s City Mayor, Leicestershire County Council’s leader and leaders of the seven district councils have agreed in principle the proposals for a joint body dealing with major decisions affecting the entire city and county.

They met on Thursday 25 June to firm up their bid for devolved powers from Whitehall. The proposals will be sent to government in July for its consideration.

The region, which has a population of close to a million people, will seek powers involving planning for major developments such as housing and employment. It also wants more transport responsibility, focusing on long-term investment in highway and public transport infrastructure.

The proposals also include a single strategic commissioning body that would be created to drive and deliver skills and training.

The councils also want devolved powers over funding and finance to enable local councils to create more enterprise zones.

Leicestershire County Council leader, Cllr Nick Rushton, said: “Creating a combined authority will help accelerate the growth of the local economy and create more jobs for local people.

“When decisions about investment are made locally, rather than in Whitehall, it is much more likely that their impact will be maximised, overcoming local barriers to growth and supporting local priorities.

“I particularly welcome the proposals which will enable us to take a longer-term approach to planning for economic growth, and for investing in transport infrastructure across the city and county.”

The city, county and district councils already work closely together as part of the Leicester and Leicestershire Economic Partnership (LLEP).

Nick Pulley, chair of the LLEP, said: “We are seeing business growth and new jobs being created across Leicestershire and we need to make sure that we have the right tools locally to support these businesses and ensure that we remain competitive.

“The LLEP fully supports this move for devolved powers around skills, business rates and business support funding. We also see the better coordination of local transport and housing strategies across the LLEP as an essential way to make sure that this great county is ready for the economic growth that we are all working towards.”

The council leaders estimate that the combined authority will take about six months to establish. Once detailed proposals have been drawn up, there will also be a public consultation process.

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