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'Give us more power over our finances' says district council

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It follows a motion put forward by district councillor Roger Croft (Con, Thatcham South) at a meeting of the full council recently, which received rare cross-party support.
West Berkshire Council will now enter into discussions with the other five Berkshire unitary authorities in the hope of forming one united devolution campaign, calling for authorities to be given a greater say on how funding given to them by central Government is spent.
Speaking at the meeting, Mr Croft said: “We know that the best decisions are those made locally.
“This motion is not about an extra layer of government. We don’t want that. We don’t want a revival of Berkshire County Council.
“This motion is about devolving power to local people. People have to be at the heart of this.
“The tide in favour of devolution is rising. It’s important we seize this opportunity.”
In agreement was Pamela Bale (Con, Pangbourne), who said: “It’s us locally who know exactly what our residents need.
“We are not asking for more money, we are just asking for a bit more control over the money that would be coming to us anyway.”
Liberal Democrat group leader Jeff Brooks (Lib Dem, Thatcham West) added: “This is a tremendous opportunity to take back powers to local councils who are elected by local people.”
A working group will now be formed, consisting of councillors and officers, to agree the next stage of the process with the other five Berkshire unitaries, before the proposal is put before the first secretary of state and leader of the House of Commons,William Hague.

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