South London Partnership launches case for devolution

Liberal Democrat-led Sutton Council is playing a key role in plans by the South London Partnership to further develop and promote skills, innovation and quality of life and make its case to the government for devolution to deliver the biggest growth opportunity in the capital.

The partnership, which consists of Sutton, Croydon, Kingston, Merton and Richmond, has held its first public meeting to present a programme to develop the region’s substantial  growth potential which includes the creation of thousands of new jobs and homes for local residents.

The basis of the South London region’s “offer” to government includes:-

  • The largest office location outside central London
  • The opportunity to create 20,000 new homes
  • Over half a million projected new jobs by 2036
  • A £5.21bn regeneration programme in Croydon creating over 23,000 jobs
  • Easy access to Gatwick and Heathrow airports
  • The fastest growing tech sector outside central London
  • World renowned research institutions, such as National Physical Laboratory and Kew Gardens

The partnership has formed a joint committee – the first in London – which has been ratified by each of the member councils, granting it decision-making powers that set it ahead of other regional groups.

The boroughs have agreed a joint approach to government, which covers four key themes for growth:

  1. Devolved decision-making powers – including devolved funding streams and budget holding at a local level and 100% retention of business rate relief
  2. Matching skills to demand in support of the local economy and the creation of new jobs and businesses through devolved funding and commissioning at a local level
  3. Realising infrastructure ambitions – including a stronger role in transport planning, local control of bus routes, and stronger orbital connections
  4. Greater freedom to provide homes – including a stronger voice in planning housing, easier and more direct routes to funding, and removal of restrictions on borrowing

Members of the South London Partnership already have a track record in working together, to put the region in a ready-made position for devolved powers and to deliver real change.

This includes the first four-borough shared legal service in England, a regional collaboration to provide occupational therapy equipment and a range of shared information technology, finance, human resources and payroll systems, and in the South West London Partnership, it has a long-established regional waste disposal service.

Councillor Stephen Alambritis, the leader of Merton Council, has been appointed chair of the joint committee.  He said: “This is a landmark opportunity for an unprecedented scale of growth in our region, which will bring huge benefits for local residents.

“South London represents one of the biggest growth opportunities not only in London but the entire country.

“We are starting from a position of strength, and our strong track record of working together demonstrates a single focus on delivery.”

Liberal Democrat Leader of Sutton Council, Ruth Dombey, said:  “We have a clear message to central government:  devolve to us the powers we want to allow us to unlock the growth potential in our region.  This will make sure that London maintains its status as a global city in the coming decades. 

“By working together in partnership we can offer the perfect platform to deliver a unique proposition for growth which will benefit the whole of London and the United Kingdom.”

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