Nottinghamshire County Council chief executive Anthony May, has been announced as the new chairman of the ACCE, replacing Debbie Ward who is stepping down from the role after announcing she will leave Dorset County Council ahead of the formation of a new authority in the county.
The severe financial challenges facing counties have been in the national spotlight over recent months, with the sector’s advocacy delivering almost £1bn of additional revenue resources in last month’s budget. Mr May said he wants to work collaboratively across the sector to secure additional resource for councils.
Mr May said:
“Our first priority must be to make a powerful case for long-term sustainable funding. The recent funding announced in the budget is welcome, but there remains huge uncertainty beyond 2021. Alongside this, the government’s fair funding review is gathering pace and it is essential that this allocates resources according today’s needs and addresses historic inequalities.
“Counties and metropolitan boroughs face huge demand-led pressures in adult’s and children’s social care. I want to work collaboratively across the entire sector, to gather the evidence needed to convince government of the need to invest in local government in the Spending Review.
Mr May also set out that ACCE would be advocating for an increased role for counties in regional growth, promoting the ‘strategic authority’ function of counties. While the government’s common devolution framework has been stalled in Whitehall, upper-tier councils in the East Midlands are forging ahead with their idea for a regional ‘strategic alliance’, while several councils – including his own – are pursing structural reform.
“The forthcoming devolution framework and wider reforms to planning, housing and economic development should better recognise the strategic role of counties. As chair of the Midlands Engine Operating Board I know how imperative upper-tier authorities, working with their partners, can be in driving regional growth and investment at scale. County areas are major economic powerhouses, producing 41% of England’s GVA and over half of our nation’s jobs. ACCE will make the case for government to reboot the devolution agenda in shire counties.
“Clearly, the recent decision in Buckinghamshire could potentially increase interest in structural reform. My own council has made its decision to start a local discussion over reform, while other counties may seek another route. It crucial that the Government now provides the sector with a clear framework and criteria for reform.”
Mr May also paid tribute to the outgoing chairwoman of ACCE, Debbie Ward.
“I would like to thank Debbie for her leadership of ACCE. She leaves a lasting legacy both locally in Dorset and nationally, transforming the county council during an extremely challenging time for local government and selflessly helping to pioneer the first local government reorganisation in almost a decade.
“ACCE’s sector voice has grown over the past 12 months under her leadership and I want to pick up where she left off.”
Notes to editor