The new chair of the County Councils Network has warned the government not to impose elected mayors as part of devolution deals with counties.
Kent CC leader Paul Carter (Con) was elected unopposed and will take office as CCN chair in September. He will succeed Surrey CC leader David Hodge, who has become leader of the LGA Conservative group.
Speaking to LGC to mark his appointment, Mr Carter said his priorities would be to further devolution to counties and integration between health and social care, as well as fighting for sustainable funding.
He said: “There are ambitious devolution proposals being prepared and we do not want to get entangled with elections for mayors and that kind of thing. County areas are rather different from cities.”
He welcomed the Cities & Local Government Devolution Bill, but said the government “must remember that devolution in counties will be unique and different.
“Counties already have strong leadership and governance arrangements, and we must build on existing partnerships.
“The focus must remain on ambition and outcomes, not process and creating additional unnecessary bureaucracy. Government must deliver on its promises to be flexible on local governance and be extremely ambitious in its devolution offer to our areas.”
Cllr Carter said that while he supported government economic policy, he would “not stand by while CCN member councils shoulder a disproportionate burden of deficit reduction or are unduly penalised”.
“Not only do we need to see counties receive a long-term sustainable funding deal, particularly in adult social care, we need radical reform of local government finance, including greater fiscal freedoms, a recalibration of funding incentives in two-tier areas and a fairer distribution in capital and infrastructure investment between county and city regions,” he said.