Leader rejects devolution plans

By Gavin McEwan   |   Local Democracy Reporter   |
Sunday 20th February 2022 5:00 pm
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Herefordshire should not be made to join up with larger neighbouring counties to get government support to “level up”, the leader of the county council has said.

Devolution is a key part of the Government’s levelling up plans, published in a White Paper last week, which proposes that every part of England will have a mayor by 2030 “if they wish to”. These typically have powers across several local authority areas.

Speaking on behalf of Herefordshire’s ruling coalition of Independent and Green councillors, Cllr David Hitchiner said: “The Government want to reduce the number of bodies they deal with, and seem to want us to combine with at least two other neighbouring counties.

“We know that this did not work when the county was joined with Worcestershire.”

“Any such mayor would be unlikely to be based in, or take support from, Herefordshire given its relatively small population, and “would disenfranchise the residents of Herefordshire, take power away from county councillors, and add an extra level of bureaucracy”, Cllr Hitchiner (pictured right) said.

“The effect of not embracing these ill-thought through plans should not be to make it harder for Herefordshire to receive central government funding. But we can’t just sit back and accept the crumbs from the Government’s table.”

Despite having lost most of its central funding over the last decade, “Herefordshire is very attractive for people to come and work,” he added. “Other parts of the country want to ‘level up’ to what we already have.”

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