Leaders of councils across Staffordshire have gathered for the first meeting of a new board – and one has urged the Government not to impose a mayoral system on the county.
The eight district and borough authorities – including Lichfield District Council – already work together with Staffordshire County Council, but the new Staffordshire Leaders Board aims to strengthen these links for the benefit of residents and businesses.
At the board’s first public session they discussed priorities, including climate change, economic development and addressing health inequalities.
Cllr Alan White, leader of Staffordshire County Council, chaired the session and described it as “a great occasion”.
But he also spoke about future leadership of the county, insisting they should not follow the approach of introducing a mayor – a move being considered by for neighbouring Derbyshire as part of the levelling up agenda.
“I would like to make a point to Government that whilst they might have an idea of what they think is best for us the people round this table know what is best for this place.
“Imposing a mayor on the county of Staffordshire is not what we’re about.
“We want devolution of powers to be able to do things for our residents but we don’t want a framework that doesn’t suit this place.
“That is why we have come together in this format and agreed to work together to make Staffordshire and its constituent districts and boroughs better for the people we represent.”Cllr Alan White, Staffordshire County Council
Cllr White added that the new board would “maximise the opportunities” for residents and businesses across the county.
“As we began emerging through the pandemic it felt like it was the right time to take stock, focus and re-energise, to look at what went well, what didn’t work well and what we could do even better.
“The timing of this new board therefore really couldn’t be better as we work together to bring new opportunities and investment to the whole of Staffordshire.
“Formally coming together to create this leaders board will allow us to build on our strengths and successes by focusing on joint approaches to the big issues which matter most to Staffordshire’s people.
“This includes growing the economy, attracting investment, tackling public health issues such as obesity and mental health, but also global issues like climate change by working together to reduce our carbon emissions and increase recycling targets.
“This board gives the councils here today one collaborative voice to speak to central Government on the levelling up agenda and how we can better deliver these important goals locally.
“It will also be the foundation for exploring the potential of a county deal when the right time comes to do so, so that we can work with Government on how powers are devolved into our local hands.”Cllr Alan White, Staffordshire County Council