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Three county devo bid on hold

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Three counties seeking a devolution deal have “paused” their bid due to upcoming elections and ongoing opposition to adopting an elected mayor.

Surrey CC, East and West Sussex CCs, known as the Three Southern Counties (3SC), are now considering how they might be able to benefit through the government’s industrial strategy instead.

LGC reported last March how the bid, which does not include neighbouring unitary Brighton & Hove City Council, had stalled.

The bid had focused on transport infrastructure, broadband, skills and new homes, but leaders decided against including health and social care integration proposals as they were too complex to tackle initially.

Surrey CC’s leader David Hodge (Con) told LGC that “nothing is going to happen” until after county council elections in May.

He added the issue over whether to adopt a directly elected mayor had also “not been resolved yet”.

Louise Goldsmith (Con), spokesman for the bid and leader of West Sussex, said: “At present, the 3SC devolution bid is paused, although collaborative work between all the partners within 3SC continues.

“We continue to focus on the economic case and the need for an infrastructure case for our region post Brexit, and the significant benefits for the UK as a whole. We are looking at the industrial strategy to move our agenda forward.”

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