First steps taken towards East Midlands Combined Authority

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The first moves towards an single unitary authority for the East Midlands have been made by seven district and borough councils in Leicestershire.

All seven councils have written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government in January in support of devolution and to “make clear their willingness” to work with government on its forthcoming devolution framework.

The Secretary of State has now written back to the leaders of Blaby, Charnwood, Harborough, Hinckley and Bosworth, Melton, North West Leicestershire and Oadby and Wigston councils.

In a joint statement, the leaders the seven district and borough councils in Leicestershire, said: “We are pleased to receive a positive response from the Secretary of State about our views around devolution and closer collaboration and the opportunities they present to this region and its residents.

“The district and borough council leaders in Leicestershire will be now be taking forward discussions about an East Midlands Combined Authority with the leaders of councils from around the East Midlands.”

The Secretary of State said in his letter that he recognises the district and borough councils’ ambition for an East Midlands Combined Authority and welcomes such an idea. He said it could involve all councils from Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire and could be led by an elected mayor if that was the local choice.

It was suggested to the Leicestershire borough and district council leaders that if they wished to take it forward, then they should enter into a discussion with other council leaders to develop a proposal that would provide a stable, efficient and accountable form of governance.

The letter was copied to all council leaders in the East Midlands and the chairs of the local enterprise partnerships.

The seven district and borough councils in Leicestershire recently formed two alliances to develop more collaborative working. The Southern Leicestershire Strategic Alliance comprises Harborough, Hinckley and Bosworth, Oadby and Wigston and Blaby councils, while the Northern Leicestershire Strategic Alliance will include Melton, Charnwood and North West Leicestershire councils.