£10k-a-year Nelsa fee is ‘small price to pay’ – Redbridge Council leader

Barking and Dagenham joined five other east London councils in the North East London Strategic Allia

Barking and Dagenham joined five other east London councils in the North East London Strategic Alliance (Pic by EPS Photography) - Credit: Archant

Thousands spent on forming an alliance of six London boroughs is “money well spent”, according to the borough’s leader.

Redbridge Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal said the cost of being a North East London Strategic Alliance (Nelsa) member – £10,000 a year – is a “very small price to pay” after it was formally launched last week.

The leaders of Redbridge, Havering, Waltham Forest, Newham, Barking and Dagenham and Enfield are hoping to bring “real change” to residents with the partnership aiming to tackle issues surrounding housing, employment and transport.

The group is also backing an eight-borough sub-regional partnership – which includes Greenwich and Tower Hamlets – pushing for devolution of public services.

Cllr Athwal said: “We need a clear vision for north east London, and building strong partnerships is vital for us to be able to deliver that.

“We need to do all we can to make sure our voices are heard and by joining together, we can do this more effectively.”

Redbridge’s leader of the opposition has backed the borough joining Nelsa but fears it may become a “talking shop”.

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Cllr Paul Canal (Con, Bridge) said: “I think it’s a small amount – if it leads to positive outcomes.

“But there is the danger that it becomes a talking shop and its aims are not delivered.

“Another concern is that they’re trying to model it on the northern powerhouse when in actual fact London already has the Greater London Authority (GLA).”

He added: “However, I am in favour of devolving powers from central government.”

Mike Elmerick is the man behind uniting east London’s boroughs.

He encouraged councillors to look to Manchester, where he helped devolve powers away from central government and into the hands of local councils.

“Local government working together is probably going to get it more right than central government imposing it,” he said. “Austerity is creating crises aplenty and local government has always been really good at sharing ideas and mutual support.”

But he warned the union’s strategy needed clarifying.

“I hear association, I see vision,” he said. “But I don’t think there’s clarity enough.”

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