Havering leader: Devolution a step nearer after ‘positive’ talks

Cllr Roger Ramsey

Cllr Roger Ramsey - Credit: Archant

Plans for devolved powers to east and north London will move forward after “positive” talks between nine borough bosses last week.

Havering leader Cllr Roger Ramsey was joined by fellow councillors and officers in Stratford for the discussions.

Barking & Dagenham, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest were the other areas taking part, with initial plans for joint working in economic development and transport.

But at this early stage, education and skills, housing, business growth and health and social care have also been thrown into the mix.

“The general position was that we could work together in a non-political basis on any matters of common interest for the region,” Cllr Ramsey told the Recorder.

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“It was positive. There needs to be some more detailed work to work out what areas this can happen, but we are expecting devolution in some parts.”

Another idea was a joint effort to push for better financial resources to be given to the region from central government.

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“I made the point of fairer distribution of government grant resources,” said Cllr Ramsey. “I have been saying this for 20 years. I don’t think resources are shared fairly to reflect the needs of the boroughs.

“Sir Robin Wales [mayor of Newham] spoke about how a large percentage of the most deprived boroughs in the country were in east London.

“We will put a case to government for what we can do.”

Another meeting is scheduled next month, but Cllr Ramsey stressed nothing would be done for “some time” due to the General Election.

Fears from Havering residents of a “super borough” were allayed. “There was no talk of any combined authority,” explained Cllr Ramsey. “We are all independent and in some aspects very different. We need to work out what common areas we do have.”

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