CCN News 2015 | 27 July 2015
Following the resignation of Cllr David Hodge as Chairman, the County Councils Network (CCN) today announces that Cllr Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council, has been elected Leader of the CCN Conservative Group unopposed. Following the decision by the CCN Labour and Liberal Democrat Groups not to put forward candidates for the Chairmanship, Cllr Paul Carter is now Chairman-Elect of CCN. Cllr Paul Carter will be formerly appointed CCN Chairman at the CCN Annual General Meeting on September 16th 2015.
Speaking on his election as Conservative Group Leader and Chairman-Elect of CCN, Cllr Carter said;
“It is an honour and privilege to be elected Leader of the CCN Conservative Group and Chairman-Elect of the County Councils Network. I would like to thank my fellow Conservative Leaders and Leaders of the Labour and Liberal Democrat Groups for supporting my candidacy and entrusting me with leading the organisation over the coming period.
Over the past two years, CCN has transformed under the leadership of my predecessor, David Hodge. CCN has become an influential and respected network; one willing to challenge and work with Government to deliver better services for local people. Over the course my tenure as Chairman, my primary objective is to build on these solid foundations and take CCN and its member councils to the next level.
My number one policy priority for the network is to continue our momentum on County Devolution. The Government has rightly signalled a historic shift in power for the County and City Regions of England, something CCN has been championing. This is only right for the people of England, of whom 24 million reside in counties, who like the residents of Scotland and Wales deserve to have more control over their everyday lives and the local services they rely on to live and work.
CCN member councils are ambitious and ready for substantial devolution. It is only through real devolution to counties that cover over 86% of England’s landmass and deliver 41% of GVA that the Government can achieve its important objectives of reducing the national deficit, increasing growth and productivity, and reshaping the public sector landscape.
Although I welcome the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill and recent devolution announcement to Cornwall, the Government must remember that devolution in counties will be unique and different. Counties already have strong leadership and governance arrangements, and we must build on existing partnerships. In achieving a fundamental and long-lasting decentralisation settlement, the focus must remain on ambition and outcomes, not process and creating additional unnecessary bureaucracy. We are committed to working with our partners, including districts and LEPs, but the Government must deliver on its promises to be flexible on local Governance and be extremely ambitious in its devolution offer to our areas.
My second priority, and indeed passion, is achieving true integration between health and social care. Following CCN’s recent meeting with the Secretary of State for Health and his speech at the LGA conference, it is clear that Jeremy Hunt believes that quality social care services are integral to the future sustainability of our national health service. CCN support his vision for health and social care integration and are committed to achieving a more effective use of every pound spent within the NHS and social care system. CCN will redouble its efforts in working with Government to provide a fairer and more sustainable social care funding settlement, reforming the Better Care Fund, and delivering increased investment in out of hospital and community-based services.
Despite the undoubted opportunities of presented by devolution and the integration agenda, this Parliament will also be challenging for CCN’s 37 county and county unitary authorities. We face further unprecedented funding reductions at a time of rising demand and expectations over local services. This round of spending cuts will be even more challenging than the last, with councils needing to take extremely difficult decisions over the future provision of both statutory and non-statutory services.
Although I am committed to working with Government to balance the national books, deliver County Devolution and radically reform our public sector, I will not stand-by while CCN member councils shoulder a disproportionate burden of deficit reduction or are unduly penalised. Not only do we need to see counties receive a long-term sustainable funding deal, particularly in adult social care, we need radical reform to the system of local government finance, including greater fiscal freedoms, a recalibration of funding incentives in two-tier areas and ensuring a fairer distribution in capital and infrastructure investment between county and city regions.
In embracing the opportunities and rising to the challenges presented during this Parliament, it is my sincere pledge to listen and learn from our member councils. Whether Conservative or Labour, counties remain the most innovative and efficient authorities in the country. Part of the strength of the CCN lies in its ability to speak on behalf of all counties in England on a cross-party basis and this is an approach that I will strive to maintain and strengthen during my period as Chairman.”