Futures Forum: Devolution for Devon and Somerset? >>> District Council to give Leader 'delegated authority to sign Devolution Bid' at extraordinary council meeting: Thursday 28th January
This issue encompasses a host of other issues:
Futures Forum: Of devolution, local assets and investing locally
Futures Forum: Breaking news >>> Devolution for Devon and Somerset? >>> Hinkley Point delayed
Futures Forum: Devolution for Devon and Somerset? >>> 'democratic deficit'?
Futures Forum: Devolution, Local Enterprise Partnerships & accountability
The decision was made last night to take the next step:
EDDC gives green light to devolution deal
15:50 29 January 2016 Harvey Gavin
A devolution deal aimed at boosting jobs, wages and productivity in the South West has been signed off by East Devon District Council (EDDC).
At a specially-convened meeting last night (Thursday), members from all parties voted overwhelmingly to proceed with the Heart of the South West (HOTSW) bid.
The deal, if successful, would give the HOTSW partnership, which includes 13 other local authorities across Devon and Somerset, greater autonomy from Whitehall.
EDDC says the deal could attract more investment to East Devon and lead to more - and better paid - jobs.
Last night’s vote gives the council’s leader, Councillor Paul Diviani, the authority to negotiate on behalf of EDDC during the bid process.
He said: “We know that there may be no additional money coming in as a result of participating in devolution, but there are ways of working smarter and making existing funds work harder for all of our residents. Devolution is important for the district and will bring many benefits, so we do need to be engaged in the process.
“It may result in increased investment in East Devon, produce more and better paid jobs and, with more powers and finance devolved to us, it will allow us to close the productivity gap and let local people benefit from a thriving economy.”
But critics have raised concerns that because a successful bid would likely mean no extra cash from central government, residents could end up ‘paying more for fewer services’.
Speaking at last night’s meeting, Cllr Cathy Gardner, ward member for Sidmouth Town, said: “Councils are facing a financial crisis as a result of government cuts: Devolution is being proposed as a way to mitigate the effects of this.
“There is no new money coming from central government. The changes to business rates being suggested are not enough on their own. The remaining money has to come from increasing local charges.
“This will affect everyone: we will be paying more in local taxes whilst also paying more to use the services those taxes used to cover. And you will pay more for less.”
HOTSW plans to submit its bid to government by the end of February, which will be followed by negotiations over the deal.
EDDC says it hopes to sign the finished devolution deal ‘within the first half of 2016’.
EDDC gives green light to devolution deal - News - Sidmouth Herald
Here is more from Cllr Cathy Gardner:
Another chance to hear….
There will also be questions asked about the Local Plan, especially relating to the retention of the Sidford employment site. Whilst it’s essential to get the plan into action, it’s a pity there are so many weaknesses in it. Surely a better job could have been done in a much shorter time? Other authorities managed to do so, why not EDDC? Who’s benefited from the plan not being there?
Another chance to hear.... « East Devon Alliance
Sidmouth Herald: EDDC’s confidential talks over devolution branded ‘unacceptable’ « East Devon Alliance
Devolution Archives « East Devon Alliance
And here is the press release from the District Council:
Members vote in favour of sign off on devolution bidAt last night’s extraordinary meeting of East Devon District Council, on Thursday January 28, there was cross party support from Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Independent members, who gave widespread backing for the Heart of the South West Devolution Programme, by voting overwhelmingly in favour of the council approving the prospectus and the Leader of East Devon District Council being given delegated authority to continue negotiations on behalf of the council. The prospectus is a detailed document that maps out proposals for a deal that will devolve powers and finance from Westminster to the Heart of the South West partnership.
Members also noted that clear objectives had been set for the negotiation and that an oversight group has already been established and has met. They also noted all the work that has been done to date and that rural proofing had been included in the draft bid.
The bid document, which reflects months of work by council chiefs in Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay, with 13 district councils, Dartmoor and Exmoor National parks, the local NHS and the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, was approved on January 25 2016 by Heart of the South West partners and will be submitted to Government, once the remaining partners have given their formal endorsement.
If implemented, devolution aims to turnaround productivity in the South West, which is currently running at less than 80% of the national average. By 2030, devolution could help deliver powerful benefits such as:
- 163,000 new jobs
- 179,000 more homes
- Higher wage levels which are above the national average
- Apprenticeship starts up by 400 per cent
- Every young person in education, employment or training
- A better qualified workforce
- Faster, more rail services with greater capacity
- Faster road journeys with less congestion
- 100 per cent superfast broadband coverage
- A UK centre of excellence for skills development
Once the remaining partners have formally approved the prospectus, the aim is to submit the prospectus to Government by the end of February and then to initiate discussion and formal negotiation with a view to signing a deal within the first half of 2016.
Commenting on the ratification of devolution by councillors, Councillor Paul Diviani,Leader of East Devon District Council, said:
We know that there may be no additional money coming in as a result of participating in devolution, but there are ways of working smarter and making existing funds work harder for all of our residents. We’re trying to drive this process from the bottom upwards and we want to ensure that a cohesive and joined up approach is taken.
Devolution is important for the district and will bring many benefits, so we do need to be engaged in the process. It may result in increased investment in East Devon, produce more and better paid jobs and, with more powers and finance devolved to us, it will allow us to close the productivity gap and let local people benefit from a thriving economy.
We are also mindful of the importance of issues within our own district and will do everything we can to ensure that the productivity agenda will include projects such as improvements to the A303/A30, a North/South relief road for Axminster, the demand for rural workspace from innovation-led businesses, the opportunity to reinvest business rate income in the district and to bring forward employment sites and business growth infrastructure through a growth hubs focus in East Devon’s main towns.
29 January 2016 - Devolution journey to move forward to next stage of negotiating process - East Devon