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A sad day for local democracy in Brentwood

July 23, 2020 2:20 PM
By Cllr David Kendall

Brentwood could link up with Basildon and Thurrock?

Local Conservative councillors support a proposal that could see Brentwood link up with Basildon, Thurrock, and three other Councils to form a new "South Essex Combined Authority" with a Directly elected Mayor.

At last night's Brentwood Borough Council's Extraordinary Council meeting (22/7) Brentwood's Conservative Leader announced that the Council was supporting a proposal being put to the Government for a new South Essex Combined Authority and a Directly elected Mayor. His position was also supported by the leader of the Labour Group.

Liberal Democrats councillors spoke strongly against the plan and called for a vote to be taken to reject the proposal and ensure that no decision to join with other council's was taken until Brentwood residents had been given the opportunity to express a democratic view either by referendum or though the ballot box.

Our request for a vote was refused

The Background

The Government is currently reviewing the entire process of Local Government. Recently the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced the publication of a white paper on devolution of power across the country. In our area the Conservatives and Labour are using this review to put forward a proposal that South Essex Council's (including Brentwood) breakaway and form a combined authority with a directly elected Mayor. This move could see Brentwood in a new combined authority with Basildon, Thurrock, Rochford, Castle Point and Southend on Sea.

Brentwood Liberal Democrat Councillors say……..

We do not believe the vast majority of Brentwood residents will want to be a part of a combined authority dominated by the likes of Basildon and Thurrock and with a Directly elected Mayor either now or in the future.

We do not believe a South Essex Combined Authority would reflect Brentwood's local identity or the interests of our community. We would become the junior partner in an organisation that has little in common with our area.

We do not believe it would be good for local democracy. The whole decision making process would become more remote and we would have to dance to the tune of a directly elected Mayor who quite possibly would have little knowledge and understanding of our Borough.

If Brentwood has to work with other authorities on Housing, Transport, the economy and planning we believe our community has far more in common with authorities such as Epping Forest, Chelmsford and even Colchester.

If you agree please sign our petition: www.handsoffbrentwood.info