Last week, the combined Scrutiny and Overview Cttees asked a few questions about plans to 'devolve' powers to parts of the West Country - and asked for more scrutiny and overview:
Futures Forum: Devolution for Devon and Somerset? >>> Scrutiny Cttee declines to give District Council Leader power to sign devolution bid >>> postponed to full Council 16th Dec
One particular area of concern is that of the perceived influence of 'big business' - and the lack of accountability:
Futures Forum: Devolution for Devon and Somerset? >>> of Local Enterprise Partnerships and 'what happens when a lobby group of landowners and developers gains too much influence over the democratic planning process'
Futures Forum: Devolution, Local Enterprise Partnerships & accountability
The Herald carried a piece last week on concerns from local District Councillors about the arrangement:
Breaking news & sport in Sidmouth | Sidmouth Herald
And today, the East Devon Watch blog reports on how these concerns go beyond the borders of East Devon:
DEVOLUTION: SOUTH DEVON HAS MAJOR CONCERNS
8 DEC 2105
A correspondent in South Devon writes ( the views expressed are his or her own). The final paragraph and citation makes for particularly worrying reading for East Devon where, despite much opposition, we treasure our environment.
South Devonians have grave concerns about devolution to big business.
In South Devon we read your article with interest. We are also interested in the operations of the LEP and how they appear to be run by big business with much benefit and profits advantage for big business.
It seems to work like this……
A nice organisation that most people love like eg a large charity, colleges, universities etc wish for more money to fund pet projects. “Mr Big Developers” who makes loads of money from building open-market houses, expensive apartments, roads, nuclear power stations etc, are very unpopular locally. Most people support schemes for families on low income and the homeless.
So the Local Enterprise Partnerships broker schemes where the “nice organisation” gets the money for their pet project by partnering it with a “big developer” and with district & county council executives & LEP members ….. the general public and parish councils are usually kept in the dark about these arrangements, which they classify as “commercially confidential”.
They often justify the scheme as delivering affordable houses but the scheme does little to make truly affordable houses and nothing for the homeless, local people are ignored or overruled.
Local democracy in action…. No …. money for big business, and its friends …. Yes
These may also be of interest:
The small print at the bottom is interesting where they mention things like their involvement with building 11,000 houses on the back of business support.
I have just come across some documents that show they now partner with organisations like Natural England and Dartmoor National Park and The environment Agency. http://www.lepnetwork.net/key-activities/natural-environment/
and a great one where:
“Purpose of report
This report identifies the key opportunities from and threats to the economic plans of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) which stem from the economy’s dependence on the environment.”
Devolution: South Devon has major concerns | East Devon Watch