A 'game-changing' association of south Essex councils has been formed with the signing of a memorandum of understanding.
The Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA) consists of Basildon, Brentwood, Castle Point, Essex County, Rochford, Southend-on-Sea, and Thurrock councils. All 7 councils have recognised the need to work across borders on strategic issues such as infrastructure, planning and growth.
Leaders and Chief Executives agreed in June 2017 to develop a joint 'place' vision for the region up to 2050 that will show how south Essex is a dynamic, modern place providing the conditions for people, communities and businesses to prosper.
Alongside this, some key aims of ASELA will be to transform transport connectivity, open up spaces for housing, business and leisure development through a spatial strategy and shape local labour and skill markets.
Leader of Thurrock Council, Cllr Rob Gledhill said: "This really is momentous for all of us. We have agreed to work together like never before and for the good of south Essex. Although local decision making will never be lost, we will work collectively and across our local authority borders, as we are clear that our region’s potential is greater than the sum of its parts.
"Our potential as a place is huge, our collective size and scope is as big as many large city areas in the UK, and our strategic assets can compete with other areas in the UK and globally. Our greater south Essex ambition will support our collaboration and deliver the impact we need by working with government.
"This isn't about producing some words or bits of paper – this is about genuine partnership and collaboration and being a real voice for the region, fighting for the infrastructure and funding south Essex needs to deliver on the exciting economic opportunities we have now and will have in the future."
Next steps for the group include publishing a 'statement of intent' explaining work that has already taken place and a forward plan of work, and developing an engagement plan.