Telford & Wrekin Council response to Levelling Up White Paper

Earlier this month the government published its long awaited White Paper on Levelling Up. It includes details of a new devolution framework that involves Local Government reorganisation.

Telford & Wrekin Council response to Levelling Up White Paper

The document states that future bids to the Levelling Up Fund would require some form of combined authority for the area, with an elected mayor.  This translates as either Telford &Wrekin Council joining up with Shropshire Council or aligning with other adjacent authorities. 

Councillor Shaun Davies, (Lab)Leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, said:

“We’ve waited some time for the government to share more information about their plans for Levelling Up.  So we anticipated their much heralded document would answer many of the questions which we’ve been lobbying them about.

“However whilst the White Paper talks about establishing a new independent data body as well as a new Levelling Up Advisory Council, it’s scant on the details we wanted and expected to see.  In fact it has set the cat amongst the pigeons with regards to an elected mayor and aligning with other authorities.

“It is widely acknowledged that Telford & Wrekin Council is a high performing local authority with a very clear vision to protect, care and invest to create a better borough.  Everything we do is focused on making the lives of our residents and businesses better.  We had anticipated the government White Paper would give clear guidance on criteria for submitting bids, which it doesn’t and would not be prescriptive around local authority reorganisation and, in turn, more bureaucracy.

“So as a responsible local authority we will take our time to look at the government document and take a view based on what’s best for our residents and businesses.  We will not be hurried into making a decision based on a White Paper that is lacking in detail around the areas that matter.

However, I can confirm that we strongly object to any manufactured merger with Shropshire Council and oppose the government’s proposal of an elected Mayor for Shropshire.  I can see no circumstances where a merger would be in the best interests of our residents and businesses.  This administration is on the side of local people and we will continue to put Telford and Wrekin first.

“Levelling Up has been a major policy commitment for the government.  They have promised much but the outcomes have been, at best variable across the country. What is clear is that any benefits are very much in the long term and financial awards do not come anywhere close to alleviating the pressures on council budgets.  For Telford &Wrekin Council, this has meant £130m budget savings each and every year.

“I will be bringing forward a motion to our next full council meeting to ask elected members to reaffirm their views on this matter and anticipate cross party support.”