Devolution thumbs up from Chichester District Council

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CHICHESTER District Council leader Tony Dignum has endorsed West Sussex County Council’s push for devolution.

The county council will argue that devolving powers from Whitehall to county council level will enable a more co-ordinated approach to delivering better services for residents, improving the economy, and attracting more investment.

Proposed changes could see local authorities have more fiscal autonomy, and additional responsibilities relating to road and rail infrastructure, health and social care, and employment.

Mr Dignum is supportive of the move, joining the likes of Adur and Worthing councils. But neighbours Arun declined to comment on its stance.

Mr Dignum said: “Up until now, the big news about devolution from the Government has been about the cities, beginning with Greater Manchester.

“Louise Goldsmith is quite right to signal the importance of devolving powers to shire counties too. We support West Sussex County Council and other councils to take forward the preparatory work to make the case for greater devolved powers to be given to shire local authorities.

“As usual, the devil is in the detail, but we hope there will be genuine devolution of functions, powers and finance in due course. Once we have the detail we will work with West Sussex County Council to ensure we get the best deal for our communities.”

Mr Dignum welcomed the recent appointment of Greg Clark as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, hoping he would deliver ‘real devolution and localism’.

He added: “It will allow greater accountability and allow local people to do what was best for their areas, as opposed to the final decisions being made by civil servants.”

Arun District Council leader Gill Brown was asked to comment on the news, exclusively broken by this newspaper on Friday.

The council’s press office stated, however, she was ‘unavailable for comment’.