Basildon Council will be allowed to divorce from Essex County Council if Labour wins the general election next month, it has been claimed. 

Basildon's Labour leader Gavin Callaghan took to social media this morning to announce that shadow secretary of state for local government, Labour's Andrew Gwynne, has confirmed he will grant Basildon Council unitary status if Labour win the December 12 election. 

It could mean the council ultimately taking over powers currently in the hands of Essex County Council, such as highways, social services, public health and libraries.

Mr Gwynne said: "The Basildon borough is the major economic powerhouse in Essex and on the Thames Estuary.

"In population as well as housing and economic growth terms, Basildon is already a city. 

"Now we neeed to give the five towns of the borough the powers to make decisions on education, skills, health and infrastructure that can unleash even more of the borough's potential."

Mr Callaghan added: "I am grateful to the Shadow Secretary of State and his ministerial team for listening to the case I have made and accepting the need for a change in Basildon's governance. 

"It is now clear that every voter in the borough has something serious and local on the ballot paper on December 12; electing a Labour government equals a unitary council in Basildon so that we can take control of our roads, our potholes, our care system our education and our infrastructure. 

"This is incredible exciting and proof that Labour really belives in Basildon."

Jack Ferguson is set to stand for Labour in Basildon and East Thurrock. 

He said: "If we are really going to take back control over the next decade then we need to see the rollout of devolution on a scale not seen before. 

"Two tier local government doesn't work for a council the size of Basildon. 

"We need big changes and Labour is committed to delivering that."