A DIRECTLY elected London-style mayor could drive forward a multi-billion pound resurgence for south Essex creating 100,000 jobs.

Six south Essex councils are set to join forces in a bid to secure a package of investment and devolved powers to drive new infrastructure, economic growth and new housing across the area.

The plans would see Southend, Basildon, Castle Point, Rochford, Thurrock and Brentwood councils all working together to work with Government ahead of the autumn spending review.

Basildon Standard:

A directly elected mayor, akin to Sadiq Khan (above) in London, could also be a possibility.

The package of investment and devolved powers is revealed in a draft south Essex “prospectus”, and includes an ambition to create the new jobs by 2050 and grow the region’s contribution to the economy by £15bn.

For the plan to be a success, the document states: “The only viable option to deliver the scale of ambition and priorities and provide the area with significant new powers and funding to increase opportunities and living standards through inclusive growth and productivity improvements would be a combined authority with a directly elected mayor.”

In addition, the move includes plans to:

  • Help 50,000 businesses to grow and increase productivity
  • Ensure that all new development is underpinned by infrastructure and especially social infrastructure including education and health services
  • Build an economy that is enabled by the strongest digital network for a mixed rural and urban area
  • Unlock £5bn of private sector investment
  • Create over 5,000 work opportunities for young people aged 16-24 per annum, and 5,000 apprenticeships per annum in the next ten years
  • Deliver a total of 96,000 new homes, including 29,000 affordable homes for key workers by 2038 – as determined for each local authority by the already agreed strategic assessment of housing need Both Southend Council and Basildon Council will consider the report next week.

Ian Gilbert, leader of Southend Council, said: “Despite limited funding and resources, councils across south Essex have been on the front foot for the last three years to collectively discuss and plan for how we can tackle the big issues that we face as a region.

>> Super-councils set to lead the charge in huge south Essex shake-up

“This includes how we can deliver better infrastructure, new housing and jobs, and gain the amount of funding that will be needed to do it properly and drive prosperity in all our communities.”

'Biggest shake up in a generation' 

THE leader of Southend Council says the biggest shake-up in a generation would allow south Essex to punch its weight on a bigger level and have more say over how cash is spent.

Labour councillor Ian Gilbert spoke as councils proposed vast changes with a combined authority to maximise their influence with the Government.

He stressed decisions on key issues affecting Southend - and the same with Basildon, Castle Point and Rochford - would stay with each council.

Meanwhile, current council powers would remain. Mr Gilbert said: “Almost all decisions currently made by Southend will still be made in Southend.

This is not about merging councils. “In terms of the services we provide, like waste collection, highway repairs and community safety – all that will stay as our own thing.

“What we want to cooperate on is the strategic planning and strategic transport which is such a big issue and where problems are common across all of our authorities.

“We want to bring power down from the Government so we get a say in how money is spent.”