England’s county councils have expressed their disappointment that David Cameron snubbed them when unveiling his local empowerment drive this morning.
In his response to the Scottish vote to reject independence, the prime minister announced that the government would announce fresh moves to empower England’s cities during the next few days.
David Hodge (Con), chair of the County Councils Network, criticised the prime minister’s focus on urban areas.
He said: “We are disappointed Mr Cameron talked this morning only of empowering England’s great cities, when England’s great counties have an equal role in ensuring the success of the UK. In fact, counties play a larger role in the UK economy than cities ever will.
“The 23 million people living in county areas cannot and must not be left out of this vital conversation. Counties are knocking on Number 10’s front door, our residents want the same opportunities as those in Scotland.”
The comments by Cllr Hodge, who is also leader of Surrey CC, follows the publication earlier this week of the CCN’s Plan for Government, which calls for beefed up powers for county councils.
In a further response to Mr Cameron’s announcement, the Commons communities and local government select committee urged ministers to take up its recent recommendation to transfer fresh tax power to English local government.
Clive Betts, the committee’s Labour chair, called on the government to accept recommendations in a recent report issued by his committee that English councils should be given a range of new tax raising powers, including business rates and stamp duty, along with greater flexibility to borrow for investment.