Below, the County Councils Network has responded to the speech.
Cllr Martin Hill, CCN Devolution Spokesperson said;
“We strongly welcome Simon Clarke’s acknowledgement that the benefits of devolution must be spread right across England and we recognise the imperative for strong local accountability.
“Some of our member councils are considering the proposition of an Elected Mayor or Leader, and we want to collaborate with government to shape their proposals so they work in county areas. But as the Minister acknowledged, there are alternative forms of governance that can and should be explored. The Minister was right to praise local leadership in responding to COVID-19, and we must build on this as we address recovery and devolution.
“The Minister has provided further indications that local government reform will be a major feature of the White Paper and many two-tier county councils will want to embrace the benefits of unitary local government for their geographies and their residents. There is an urgency for government to set out their intentions to provide clarity for the sector.
“CCN has long argued that if the government is to pursue a reform agenda then it must be evidence-based and should use the White Paper to set out criteria to inform local discussions, and the Minister rightly reiterated the need for a minimum population limit for new unitary councils. We look forward to working with Ministers to shape their proposals to ensure that any new unitary councils have the size and scale necessary to drive local growth and maximise efficiency for tax payers, supported by empowered Town and Parish councils.”
Notes to editor;