15/08/2016 Leave a comment
One of the re-occurring theme I have heard these past few weeks at Business Breakfasts, in discussion with Parish and Town Councils and on Twitter both in tweets and retweets at my Devolution Twitter surgery on Wednesday, and at public engagements events in Lowestoft on Thursday lunchtime and Saturday morning in front of the Apex in Bury St. Edmunds is a worry that the Combined Authority and the Mayor will cost a lot more and why would we want that.
And you know what, it’s a fair question. The first part is simply dealt with, it will be staffed by existing officers and Chief Executives alongside Council Leaders and no one will be earning anymore. In Suffolk, we have experience of this with a strong and active Suffolk Public Sectors Leaders board where we often take decisions as a collective. This then leads to the question, well, why do you need a Combined Authority, can’t you ‘just do it’? In part that would be possible, albeit that many of the powers we need are a part of the devolution deal to ‘just do it’, without Devolution this would mean the money would not be forthcoming and you know what, it’s a lot of money, so we would be daft not to explore this further. It’s fair to say that a Mayor and a Mayor’s office would come with costs. Whoever stands to be the proposed Mayor must seek to deliver real savings in local government, far beyond the cost of its creation; offering efficiencies across the entire system to protect front line services that local people rely on. This is about building on the partnership working that already takes place within local government and with health and business, offering residents the quality of service they have a right to expect.
I think that Devolution is a new and real opportunity for the proposed Mayor and Combined Authority to deliver real savings in local government, far beyond what we currently think of being local government.
Please do have a look at www.eastangliadevo.co.uk and fill in the questionnaire to have your views heard.