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New London grouping paving the way for devolution

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The formalisation of a grouping of six London boroughs is being touted as a forerunner to a wider sub-regional body which will be able to take advantage of any powers devolved to the capital, according to its chair.

Barking & Dagenham, Enfield, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, and Waltham Forest LBCs formally set up the North East London Strategic Alliance (NELSA)two weeks ago. Its focus will be on how to build new homes, create more jobs, improve skills, transportation and public services.

NELSA’s chair Chris Robbins (Lab), who is leader of Waltham Forest, told LGC the new grouping was “preparing the way” for the future devolution of powers and would be lobbying hard for the interests of north east London.

He said existing devolution to London’s mayor was not sufficient and did not take account of “major differences” between different parts of London.

Last month the leaders of London’s 32 boroughs, the City of London, and mayor Boris Johnson submitted wide-ranging proposals to the government for devolution to the capital. While it is proposed some powers would be held at a “pan-London” level, other controls could be devolved to sub-regional groupings.

Cllr Robbins said he hoped the partnership would expand to include Greenwich and Tower Hamlets LBCs, which joined the NELSA boroughs to launch a devolution prospectus back in March under the banner of Local London.

Cllr Robbins called NELSA a “bridge” and added he hoped Hackney LBC, which pulled out of the Local London arrangement at the last minute in March to focus on pan-London devolution, would join the grouping. There was also space for Haringey LBC too, he said.

If things go well, the Local London sub-regional grouping could be officially formed within a year, Cllr Robbins said.

“We need to develop the structure for Local London to exist and I’m hopeful that will happen in the due course of time,” he said.




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