Liberal Democrats on Gloucestershire County Council have asked the Leader of the Council, Cllr. Mark Hawthorne, the reason why he’s not joined 119 other leaders of English councils in signing a letter calling for greater devolution and an end to financial cuts imposed by the centre.
The Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (LD: Kingsholm and Wotton) said that: “I am disappointed that other Tory controlled regions in England have joined forces in signing this letter, but the Leader of Gloucestershire County Council has decided not to sign.
“In the wake of the Scottish referendum we have the perfect opportunity for power to be devolved from London to this county. An opportunity that Mr. Hawthorne doesn’t appear to want to take.
“I would like to hear publicly from Mr. Hawthorne why he felt this was a letter that his Tory colleague on Gloucester City Council could sign i.e. Cllr. Paul James, but that he could not.
“Is it not the case that Mr. Hawthorne is quite happy being dictated to by a distant Whitehall?”
Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Cllr. Iain Dobie (LD: Leckhampton and Warden Hill) also said that: “The question of devolution was debated last week at Shire Hall. Here, Mr. Hawthorne voted against a joint Lib Dem/Labour amendment asking him to write to the Prime Minister in encouraging more power to county and city regions.
“The very fact that Mr. Hawthorne has not signed this letter gives me further reasons to believe that the Leader of Gloucestershire County Council does not want to seize this opportunity in taking greater local responsibility.
“Taking power back from Whitehall is a good thing for the county, but needs the support from everyone - not least the Leader of the County Council. It would be good if the Leader of the Council speaks up for Gloucestershire.”