PM opens door to elected mayor for Suffolk in future
- Credit: PA
The prime minister hinted at the possibility of an elected mayor for Suffolk in the future, during a major speech today.
In a speech sketching out his plan to "level up" the UK, Boris Johnson said the government needed to “rewrite the rulebook” and take a “more flexible approach to devolution” in England.
Previous attempts to devolve power to Suffolk and Norfolk were scrapped in 2016, but in recent months there have been calls for the region to consider the possibility again.
“The UK will never fit into some cookie cutter division into regions named after points of the compass,” Mr Johnson said.
“But where there are obvious communities of identity and affinity and real economic geographies, there is a chance to encourage local leadership.”
Mr Johnson added local leaders in towns around the country should be “given the tools to make things happen for their communities”.
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“To do that we must take a more flexible approach to devolution in England,” he said.
“We need to rewrite the rulebook with new deals for the counties and there is no reason why our great counties cannot benefit from the same powers we’ve devolved to city leaders.”
In a move reversing the government's position back in 2015, Mr Johnson said an elected mayor may not be the correct option for all places.
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He went so far as to joke that people should send him an email if they could think of a better title for a mayor in the context of a devolution to a county.
"We could devolve power for a specific local purpose, like a county or a city coming together to improve local services like buses," he said.
He added that the the Government wanted to see the emergence of local leaders who would “take responsibility” for local problems.
“We want local leaders to come forward but obviously with these powers must come responsibility and accountability,” he said.
“That’s what we want to see and people taking charge of their local area, leading it, and not just seeking opportunities to point out differences between themselves and central government, but actually taking responsibility for problems and solving them with our help.”