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Saturday, 28 October 2017

The picture of 'devolution' in the South West gets murkier

It really is very difficult to keep pace with all the exciting projects destined to add some dynamic layer of 'devolution' into the South West:

Whether it's not knowing what the actual package on offer entails:
Futures Forum: Exeter, Devon and devolution: "We could welcome devolution – but only once you know what any benefits are." 

Or whether it's asking for the damned thing to actually happen:
Futures Forum: Demanding devolution for Devon and Somerset >>> >>> ‘Give us the power and we will create a better skilled workforce to enhance our whole economy’

Or whether it's asking some basic questions such as: How are we going to pay for all of this?
Futures Forum: Local government finance: "It looks as though we’re approaching a cliff edge and no one has any idea how to stop us hurtling over it.”

Or whether we're busy going nowhere:
Futures Forum: Devolution deadlock

Or whether we've just got too many 'new initiatives':
Futures Forum: Dithering over devolution in the SouthWest >>> "The name Great South West is a working title at present and may alter as the intiative gains momentum in order to be appropriate and resonate with all parties. This is not a brand used by the West of England LEP for their local authority areas."

Here's an overview of things from over the past month:

South Ham seems to be objecting to the small print:
Meeting asks why merge with West Devon if £30 council tax rise would solve problems? | News | Kingsbridge & Salcombe Gazette

Then we seem to be going from the 'Heart of the South West' to the 'Heart of Devon (+Exeter)':
“Great South West” LEP for LEPs! The South-West Regional Development Agency rising from its ashes? | East Devon Watch

The EDW continues its watch over the designs of the LEP for the 'Heart of the SW' - plus further entities emerging from Greater Exeter:
Diviani and Skinner lead EDDC for “Greater Exeter” and business-led Local Enterprise Partnership | East Devon Watch
Want to hold our Local Enterprise Partnership to account? | East Devon Watch
Want to comment on LEP’s business plan for us? Go to Torbay council website says Sidmouth Herald! | East Devon Watch

Then there is the continuing mess over hospital closures - and the LEP seems to be involved in that:
DCC EDA Independent Councillor Shaw asks LEP CEO killer question | East Devon Watch

The latest from the EDW asks a rather disturbing question on the latest developments:

IS A NEW, POWERFUL SUPRA-REGIONAL AUTHORITY BEING CREATED WITHOUT PUBLIC CONSULTATION?

28 OCT 2017

Owl says: yes!

On 1 January 2018, a new “Joint Committee” will come into being.

It is charged with delivery of a “productivity strategy” for the whole Devon and Somerset area.

For its (sinister?) aims and objectives, see section 1.3 here:
http://eastdevon.gov.uk/papers/cabinet/011117bpcabinethotsw%20jcarrangementsappendixc.pdf

Truly, we live in disturbing times as NONE of this has had ANY public consultation, yet, at EDDC, it will be decided on the nod at its Cabinet meeting on 1 November 2017:
http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/2258719/011117combinedcabinetagenda.pdf

Some really worrying points:

In Section 2.2 it says that the joint committee can at any time extend its powers as it sees fit.

Section 9.2 says a simple majority of votes will decide actions [the membership will be overwhelmingly Tory]

Section 12.0 Chief Executives and Monitoring Officers will be able to add items to the agenda.

NO DOCUMENT PUT FORWARD HAS ANY MENTION OF SCRUTINY OR TRANSPARENCY

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