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Kent seeks city region powers

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Kent CC has called on ministers to hand the council city region-style powers, such as responsibility for skills and transport, as part of radical proposals designed to save £330m.

The council said driving growth in the Kent economy was a primary objective and has called for powers “equivalent to the city regions” to be devolved to the council or to its Local Economic Partnership with Essex.

The report, authored by council leader Paul Carter (Con), right, said: “Kent has the opportunity to deliver greater economic growth than many UK cities given our position as the gateway to Europe…We will call for additional powers and responsibilities for city regions to be made available to Kent.”

Greater Manchester and Leeds were handed city region status in the final days of the Labour government.

It was envisaged powers over areas such as transport, skills and economic development would be devolved to the city regions but it is unclear what shape the nascent programme will take following the change in government.   

In addition to the call for the devolution of powers, the paper, Bold Steps for Kent (see attached), also outlined plans for the council to “deliver fewer services directly” and utilise private, voluntary and community providers.

What differentiated Kent’s model from other commissioning models, such as Suffolk CC or Brighton City Council, was Kent’s explicit desire to sell services, one consultant familiar with Kent’s plans told LGC.

The authority has also called on managers and employees to come forward with business cases for buying their service areas off the council, through a management buyout or setting up a public co-operative or mutual trust.

Click here for the report: Bold Steps for Kent

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