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OPINION: Mayor Dr Nik Johnson responds to ‘best value’ notice and the way forward for Combined Authority

As Mayor, and as Chair of the Board, I have an obligation to embrace my leadership role, one that I take seriously

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Objectively, as a Combined Authority, I think it’s hard to argue against our having made anything other than tremendous progress these past 18 months. For that, I just want to thank our officers for their professionalism and dedication and congratulate them on the multitude of success they have achieved for our region.

I’d argue this has been a consistently, if diplomatically reflected theme running through Improvement Board comments – that the organisation is more than playing its part.

As Mayor, and as Chair of the Board, I have an obligation to embrace my leadership role, one that I take seriously.

I’m not a combative person, and I hope it’s appreciated how keen I am on cooperation.

Clearly though there’s a substantial difference between being of a cooperative disposition and having an ability to initiate and instil an ethos of universal cooperation in what is such a complicated political dynamic.

For my part, I’d say I’m better equipped today than when I set out, I’d say I better understand the parameters of our relationships, and I’d also say I’m making better effort in doing whatever I can to bridge any gaps.

I think that’s what our constituents have the right to expect of us, and I know it’s what we owe the officers that do so much on our behalf.

It’s also what government are saying to us.

They are asking us to:

“Commit, through strong partnership working at both officer and member level, to develop the strategic priorities and aspirations for the area that will benefit local residents, and a credible delivery strategy for progressing these.”

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They go on to say:

“We hope that this can be achieved through consensus but, if not all stakeholders are ready to fully engage, the opportunity should be left open for them to do so when they feel ready to.”

And who could argue with that.

Indeed, it’s exactly what we’ve been doing and exactly what we’d planned to continue doing.

Take our workshop session together on Friday where we met to talk through our shared ambitions and future devolution opportunities.

A perfect example of our capacity for collective effort, all in pursuit of ongoing development.

A perfect example of what those of us who are ready and willing to work together can achieve through consensus.

And a perfect example of how we will continue to encourage and enable that collective action, and – as government points out – for those stakeholders that are perhaps less enthusiastic about fully engaging, we will leave the option permanently open for them for if and hopefully when they feel ready to do so.

Until then, I’ll continue to champion the work of this increasingly impressive organisation and will remain enormously grateful to board colleagues for their selflessness, ration, logic, and objectivity in pursuit of our goal of making this combined authority a credible and effective force for good across this region.

Thank you.

 

 

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