Labour councillors in South Gloucestershire tonight abstained on a vote to approve a combined authority with a metro mayor, having failed to persuade the Tory-run council to defer the matter until there was more certainty following the EU referendum result.
The councillors’ leader, Councillor Pat Rooney, said:
“The referendum result and its political fallout constitutes a very significant and material change of circumstances since this deal was negotiated.
We have never opposed the deal but feel that it would have been prudent to wait and see who is running the government in a few weeks’ time and what their attitude is to devolution and metro mayors. Instead the Tories have rushed headlong into a 30-year deal that saddles us with a metro mayor.
The chief architect of these deals, George Osborne, is clearly moving on very soon. Will his successor share Mr Osborne’s obsession with metro mayors? I am astonished that South Gloucestershire Tories are happy to press on regardless without knowing the answer to that rather fundamental question. It would have been far better to watch and wait, and attempt to negotiate a better deal with the new government team.”