The partners in the Three Southern Counties (3SC), East Sussex, West Sussex and Surrey, are looking to take greater control over the road and rail network, have more powers around housing delivery, pioneer new digital technology and launch University Enterprise Zones to support high-tech businesses.
Their devolution prospectus was submitted to Greg Clark Local Government Secretary on Friday and has been drawn up in partnership with 44 organisations.
These include 23 district and borough councils, three local enterprise partnerships, 12 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), the two police forces, as well as the South Downs National Park and East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.
A formal concordat between 3SC and Brighton and Hove City Council is also being drawn up.
In a joint statement Louise Goldsmith, Keith Glazier and David Hodge, the leaders of the three county councils, said: “This is the first step in a journey to deliver the powers we need to create jobs, transform our public services and improve our road and rail network for our communities.
“It is an opportunity to build on our significant strengths to fulfil the potential of East and West Sussex and Surrey for the benefit of our residents and the rest of the country. We will work with all our partners to develop these proposals and harness our economic clout.
“This plan will bring together local expertise to truly transform services in the interest of our communities and businesses.”
The 3SC’s proposal was one of a number of bids from local authorities across England to be submitted on Friday.
When plans for devolution in the region were first announced in May this year social care and health was one of the five major areas were more local powers were sought, but neither was mentioned in the initial bid.
Back in May Mrs Goldsmith, leader of WSCC, stressed the need to nurture the South East’s vibrant economy, while Mr Glazier, leader at ESCC, argued that they could encourage more investment in the region and devolution would ‘deliver better public services in a more democratic way’.
While the move has been broadly welcomed by district and borough council leaders in both East and West Sussex, readers appear to be more sceptical, with some taking to our website to question how much any reorganisation would cost and what impact it would have on the delivery of services.
The three councils will now work together to further develop the proposals.
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