The Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA) is discussing proposals for the formation of a Joint Committee to further its aims of achieving investment and growth for the region.
ASELA has already outlined its ambitious plans to government and this proposal will further confirm its shared intent, if agreed by its member councils.
Chair of ASELA and Leader of Thurrock Council, Cllr Rob Gledhill, said: "This is an exciting and significant next step for ASELA and once again demonstrates our shared commitment to our communities and businesses across south Essex to deliver greater prosperity and improve the lives of our residents, now and in the future.
"It's important to be clear that the formation of a Joint Committee will not take powers away from any of the local authorities and local sovereignty will be maintained. It's also not about creating one new 'super council' but rather about exploring joint strategic infrastructure projects which will benefit us all.
"Member councils will not give up the powers to make vital local decisions but will ensure our focus is on the significant shared task ahead where the prize is far greater by working together. We have already seen the benefits of joint working through ASELA. For example, we have so far secured almost £1million from government in planning delivery grant to support creation of a strategic framework for development across south Essex and £7million for improved broadband connectivity, which has seen 31 of a total of 129 new sites for fibre broadband installed in Thurrock, and 130km of full fibre infrastructure to be rolled out across Basildon, Brentwood, Castle Point, Rochford and Thurrock.
"Delivery of the prospectus ASELA submitted to government in July 2020 is expected to see south Essex contribute an additional £15billion to the UK economy and create 100,000 new jobs by 2050. It is only right that we have a Joint Committee to both cement this commitment but ensure appropriate governance is in place."
Significant investment and a comprehensive delivery programme will require a formal governance model to provide accountability to investors and good governance and transparency in the local management and use of any funds received.Each council will make their own decision as to whether to be part of the Joint Committee - further proof that each council keeps its own self-identity.