Plans finalise for devolution power grab in east London

Last month's devolution conference at Old Town Hall, Stratford

Last month's devolution conference at Old Town Hall, Stratford - Credit: Archant

A ground-breaking plan to devolve powers to eight boroughs in east London will soon be a step closer when a document that details how it would work is published this week.

Council leaders, including Sir Robin Wales, are currently finalising the Devolution Prospectus which presents the case for the decentralisation of powers from central government and City Hall to borough councils.

The prospectus is the work of leaders and mayors from Newham, Barking and Dagenham, Tower Hamlets, Redbridge, Enfield, Greenwich, Havering, Redbridge and Waltham Forest, which have a combined population of 2.2 million people.

Hackney Council is no longer part of the east London group fighting for devolution.

Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales said: “This prospectus sets out an exciting vision for our eight boroughs, outlining how devolution could unleash the true potential of this area.

“Our boroughs offer the greatest opportunity for growth and development in the UK and we need to ensure the opportunity is not missed.

“The joint commitment demonstrated by all participating mayors and leaders show exactly why central government needs to pay close attention to conversations happening in this part of London.

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“With a population of more than 2.2 million, we cannot be ignored.”

Powers set out in the prospectus could include the removal of restrictions on borrowing.

Council leaders claim this will enable them to build more homes, gain control of bus routes as well as powers over incentives and penalties for local businesses, which could help tackle problems like cheap alcohol.

It would also give them the power to impose local authority licensing schemes – similar to Newham Council’s mandatory private sector licensing scheme.

The next step is for the alliance of boroughs to develop a business case establishing where devolved powers would be best exercised at the sub-regional level.