ESSEX County Council’s leader has welcomed a review of the make-up of local government which could pave the way for more unitary authorities in Britain.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has announced the publication of a white paper on devolution of power across the country.

The paper will set out a place based strategy to boost regional economic performance and transfer central powers.

David Finch, leader of Essex County Council, said the authority was open to looking at options for the future of the county’s authorities.

He said: “Following a speech by Simon Clarke Minister for Local Government, on the future shape of local government, Essex County Council is open to exploring the opportunities which reform of our existing structures could offer.

“We are keen to engage with all our partners across local government, with residents across all our communities and with wider stakeholders on the potential options which could be explored here in Essex, including those which may devolve powers from central government.

“We have no view yet of how this conversation might take place or indeed what a new structure for local government in the county might look like – until we know more about the process, we simply support the principle of working with partners on this agenda.”

“The Covid-19 crisis requires us to think completely differently about local government, and how we meet the future needs of our communities. It has brought Essex together in what has been an exceptionally strong response, one we can be proud of as we continue to work on the restoration of services and our economic recovery.”

Colchester’s Labour group has backed Colchester becoming a unitary authority, but leader Tina Bourne said the paper could actually mean more power for the county council.

She said: “On a first look it appears this could remove local representation from residents but we need to examine the details.”

“We are supportive of looking into the structure of local Government and welcome David Finch being open to these conversations.”