Saturday, 28 November 2015

Devolution for Devon and Somerset? >>> Scrutiny Cttee to give District Council Leader power to sign devolution bid >>> Weds 2nd Dec

Both the Leader and the Chair of the District Council have been interested in central government proposals for devolution - which might see the disappearance of District Councils.

This is from the minutes of last December's full council meeting:

"Councillor Stuart Hughes referred to a motion he raised in December 2012. This was to put on hold relocation plans until the Government had ruled on the recommendations of the Michael Heseltine report ‘No Stone Unturned’."

Minutes of the meeting of the Council - 17 December 2014
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: the promise of 'hubs' and putting the cart before the horse

Questioning the spending of millions in relocating a council HQ when the future of that council is in doubt has been going on for some time:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and the longer-term demise of district councils...
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and the longer-term demise of district councils... revisted >>> the impact of devolution on the South-West

As has been pointed out, devolution could mean a refashioning of the pre-1973 system of local government:
Futures Forum: "If EDDC were abolished and Sidmouth Town Council became equivalent to what used to be Sidmouth UDC (with other responsibilities going to Devon CC) then we would get much better maintenance of Sidmouth's treasures and a better civic responsibility."

There are fears, however, that the latest proposals for 'devolution' will mean less democracy, not more:
Futures Forum: Devolution for Devon and Somerset? >>> "but it is certainly not democracy"
Futures Forum: Devolution for Devon and Somerset? >>> "instead, it must be a real process of deliberative democracy, with the ability for the public to change aspects of the deal which they want to be improved."

Within this context, the Herald reports on the Leader of the District Council's determination to press ahead with a form of devolution:

Breaking news & sport in Sidmouth | Sidmouth Herald

Agenda for Scrutiny Committee and Overview Committee Joint Meeting - Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Meanwhile, there has been comment on the Streetlife blog:

Sidmouth Herald page 24

Pining Lass  in Sidmouth
Amongst other things of interest in the Herald this week I was intrigued to see that the EDDC is intending to go for devolution.

How would this work? Will they become independent of DCC as well as government? Is it an attempt to avoid being lost due to local government reorganisation? How can they give Mr Diviani authority to sign on their behalf when the terms have not been finalised?

Surely giving him such power is undemocratic?
    Peter S
    They are looking into joining up as a group of South West Councils, to be able to have a more powerful voice in Westminster and perhaps in the future take on more rolls from central government.
    As for the authority for the leader, this is only to look at proposals, not authorise decisions, this is done by each council leader, remember that all the other councils will be in the same position, and the decisions will be made by every council at their full council meetings, by all sitting councillors.
    I do not see anything wrong with looking at different ideas on how our local councils are run, whose to say that in the future we are looking after more of our own affairs instead of centrally. 
    Almost agree with you Petere, except that the bigger you get, the more you are divorced from" Local". We either need central government or really local government (Town/ urban/ Rural District level) and not a hybrid (district) level
    Pining Lass
    Peter, I am only going on what is reported in the Herald.

    The way it was written gave the impression that all EDDC councillors were being asked to give Diviani power to speak for the council in this, even though there was no agreement as to what this is or would be. Which I find worrying.
    Peter S

    If you look at Cornwall, they still have their local Councils, some with more responsibility, but as this is at a embryonic stage, I would suggest there is a long way and time to go.


    As we all know with the press, sometimes they put articles together to get a reaction.
    As the Leader it is his role, to speak for the council, even if the individual is not liked, and if this did happen who's to say it will be the same individual in that role.

    Until we know more, I personally will keep an open mind.
    Richard E
    This is about devolving decision-making powers and budgets from Westminster to regional authorities and local politicians.

    This is fine in principle, but frankly there is not much to choose between someone in Plymouth deciding what happens to Sidmouth and someone in Whitehall - neither will know the circumstances of our town.

    In fact the politician in Plymouth is probably more likely to try and snatch 'our' money and spend it in his patch.

    The only way forward in my view is to let Sidmouth people decide what happens in Sidmouth, which means a greatly empowered Town Council.    Eliminating the District tier of local government would save a lot of money, but it will only work if powers are devolved to town and parish councils.
    Gordonius Maximus
    RE it is not just your opinion, I for one am in full agreement with you and I am sure there are many more Sidmouth Residents who feel the same. There have been many incidences of EDDC making decisions about Sidmouth when it was clear it was a Town issue and not an East Devon issue. Also your point re Plymouth and Westminster i very valid.
    Fair point well made hibou.
    The problem PS is when you enlarge you dilute, the bigger you are the harder you fall and likewise the larger you grow the thinner you spread yourself, there are many National/International Businesses that can attest to that.
    PL I think Mr Diviani is thinking of Mr Diviani.
    Peter S

    Don't know where Plymouth came into this, no one has mentioned any particular location, or what the full idea is behind this, we can speculate as much as we like, but I would like to know more specifics, before we set the hares running.
    Gordonius Maximus
    PS.................I think you need to address this comment to Richard E first and not me, Richard mentioned Plymouth. If you read RE's comment again you will see that it was meant as an analogy, it would not of made any difference to his comment if he had put Torquay, Barnstaple or Widecombe on the Moor. His point was, take issues out of the area it is the voice that shouts the loudest that will get things done for their area first. Someone has to prioritise and those areas that have the higher proportional representation will always come out on top. It is only human nature to look after your own first as I think we see with our present EDDC.

    Streetlife | Sidmouth Herald page 24

    In his previous incarnation as 'maverick', the current Chair of the District Council was very pointed in his criticism of the political leadership in sacking him as Chair of the Scrutiny Cttee over plans to look into the controversial East Devon Business Forum:
    Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: "spineless and arrogant"
    Angry Hughes brands own Tory leaders ‘spineless and arrogant’ - News - Sidmouth Herald

    Until recently, he was opposed to the relocation from Knowle:
    Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and the District Council elections
    SIDMOUTH: Council move to blame for Conservative defeats at district election, says Hughes - View from Sidmouth.

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