Thursday, 3 December 2015

Devolution for Devon and Somerset? >>> "politics is not working – a political imperative on all of us to seek proper devolution"

'Devolution' has been very much in the air:
Futures Forum: Devolution for Devon and Somerset? >>> Scrutiny Cttee to give District Council Leader power to sign devolution bid >>> Weds 2nd Dec
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."
Futures Forum: Devolution for Devon and Somerset? >>> "but it is certainly not democracy"

But it is by no means politically 'neutral':

Ministers welcome Devon and Somerset devolution bid amid stark warning from Labour

By Western Morning News | Posted: September 15, 2015

The Conservative Government is committed to negotiating “transformational” devolution deals in “every part of the country”, ministers claim, as they welcome Devon and Somerset’s combined bid. Communities secretary Greg Clark said he had personally read the region’s proposals, highlighting greater local control over infrastructure as one of its key benefits.

But his newly appointed Labour counterpart, John Trickett, warned such deals will “not work” under the current Government’s culture of spending cuts... “The country is far too centralised, and there is clearly – because politics is not working – a political imperative on all of us to seek proper devolution,” he said. “[But] devolution tied to spending cuts simply does not work.”

Ministers welcome Devon and Somerset devolution bid amid stark warning from Labour | Western Morning News

The politics is very obvious at District Council level:
Conflicting views on Devon/Somerset devolution | East Devon Watch

There was a very political meeting yesterday:
EDDC special meeting on devolution tomorrow (Wednesday) at 3 pm | East Devon Watch

This is the latest from the East Devon Watch blog - plus comment:


3 DEC 2015

Before reading the report below, does anyone recall Kaa the Snake singing “Trussssst in me” to Mowgli in Jungle Book? Lyrics:

“Trust in me, just in me, Shut your eyes and trust in me, You can sleep safe and sound, Knowing I am around
Slip into silent slumber, Sail on a silver mist, Slowly and surely your senses, Will cease to resist
Trust in me, just in me, Shut your eyes and trust in me.”

The whole song is here on You Tube:


From a correspondent:

“This afternoon, EDDC Chief Executive, Mark Williams, gave a presentation on Devolution to a special session of the Combined Overview & Scrutiny Committees. The meeting, was apparently at the request of Cllr Roger Giles, who chaired the meeting, held at Knowle Council Chamber, Sidmouth.

Mr Williams introduced the Heart of the South West devolution bid, by using the analogy of a train journey just beginning. We are still “on a single track towards Exeter”, en route for London. The government had “opened conversations” about devolution, and the Heart of the South West (HOSW) is currently being led by Devon County, Somerset County, Plymouth City and Torbay.

“We shouldn’t kid ourselves” about what a low productivity region this is, the CEO cautioned, and listed the following key areas devolution would focus on:

1.Health,care & wellbeing ……Devon County is taking the lead, but EDDC says more can be done in e.g.housing & leisure.

2.Housing & Planning…..Constraints to attracting more businesses include the lack of readily available appropriate land; inadequacy of the A 303; Western Power supply constraints; and the issues around rural broadband. The “challenge of the lack of affordable housing” had to be tackled.

3.Employment & skills…Aim is to reduce to zero (‘Not in Education or Employment’) NEETs in the area. On-going career opportunities needed, with the increasing instability in the workplace.

4.Business support…..There should be more, and with better co-ordination. Aim to look for alternative, more lucrative, businesses than tourism & the care industries.

5.Governance ..Options might be e.g. elected mayor? Combined authority? EDDC favours Place Based Boards with local focus, such as Greater Exeter & Growth Point.

In conclusion, Mr Williams explained the devolution bid as “Our ask”. EDDC wants to work in partnerships, with Exeter, Teignbridge, Devon County Council & Exeter University. Meetings are held at the Science Park, seeking innovation and more investment. The ambition is for Exeter to become a centre for data sciences and analytics, with the possibility of a new Exeter Institute of Technology.

Some “golden opportunities” would be in marine-based developments (Plymouth);nuclear energy (from Chinese-funded power station proposed for Hinkley Point, and Bridgewater College now centre for nuclear studies); and environmental futures (e.g. the Met Office, Exeter Science Park).

A 30- year strategic labour & employment plan would be presented to central government, emphasising resilience of infrastructure, and resilience of “a population that is productive”.

A draft paper will be issued on Monday, said Mr Williams, and he “would be happy to circulate it to (Council) members”. He predicted that it probably “won’t depart from this presentation” .

Admitting that the time pressure to get the bid submitted meant that there was no possibility of “forensic scrutiny” , he acknowledged that had caused some frustration.

“There is no secrecy,” he declared. “And someone has to take responsibility”. That “someone”, recommended for HOTSW delegated powers in Mr Williams’ report, would be EDDC Leader, Paul Diviani.

In the ensuing debate, questions from councillors came thick and fast, asking for much more detail, particularly on the financial basis of the devolution bid. And Councillor Rob Longhurst (East Devon Alliance Independent ) told his colleagues “ I don’t think we should be asked to authorise someone to sign a document that we haven’t seen.”

“It’s a matter of trust”, retorted a Conservative colleague, hitting the nail squarely on the head.

(Report of the meeting to be continued…)

EDDC special meeting on devolution tomorrow (Wednesday) at 3 pm
Unseemly haste leads to confusion at EDDC
Senior officers of the council must be politically neutral, especially now
← Somerset MP lambasts Devon and Somerset onbroadband fiasco and time and money wasting

4 thoughts on “Devolution: EDDC CEO asks us to trust him and Diviani … …”

Eastendboy says:
3 Dec 2015 at 2:26pm

The Heart of the South West Partnership! The latest all-star production from the Einsteins who gave us the “Connecting Devon and Somerset” broadband disgrace, featuring many of the same unelected “Local Enterprise Partnership” characters who previously starred in CDS.

And East Devon’s interests in all this to be led by two men – Williams (unelected) and Diviani who cannot even square the paperwork to get a Local Plan in place after half a decade of trying and failing.

Williams should have brought this all before elected councillors months ago, not as ever the most cursory last minute rubber-stamping offer witnessed yesterday.

Where are any Tory councillors with the guts and integrity to get to grips with this regime and its repeated insults to our democratic rights? Chairman Hughes – why not try out the Hilary Benn tactic? You might just have more allies out there if you started to insist that this sub-Corbyn shower acted to the highest standards than you know.

feuxdusoleil says:
3 Dec 2015 at 2:46pm

One of the interesting comments from Mr Williams in yesterday’s debate was his classification of the retired generation of East Devon as “unproductive”.
To my mind, the retired population are an essential part of the economic system of East Devon. Many of them have significant amounts of disposable income to spend in the local towns and to donate to the local charities. Many of them do their food shopping at small shops in preference to doing supermarket shopping by car. Retired people are overwhelmingly the main contributors to political activism and to charities that support and complement public services, which are very much needed in these times of hardship. They pay income tax, council tax, rent, etc. They generally look after their cars more carefully and drive more carefully, thus having a lower impact on demand for road, street light and road sign repairs than younger drivers. Also, without retired people, many of the care staff, nursing staff, builders, decorators, gardeners, etc. would not have jobs.
Mr Williams, it was not a very tactful or kind comment in view of the audience you were presenting to.
But then, I really ought to declare an interest in this debate ….

Diana N says:
3 Dec 2015 at 6:48pm

If I remember correctly ‘Trust me’ was one of Tony Blair’s favourite lines and look where that got us.!

As for the ‘unproductive’ generation; if they decided to end their volunteering the country would grind to a halt and it would be impossible to find the money to replace them.

Good on Rob Longhurst for having the courage to advise other councillors not to authorise someone else to sign a document they had not seen – after all, we hear about these scams every day in the media – very sound advice from Rob Longhurst.

Mike Temple says:
3 Dec 2015 at 8:27pm

And no mention of any public consultation. Health & Wellbeing (aka NHS) is unlikely to be a part of this scheme which seems to be yet another attempt by unelected business-forum-like quangos to take over.

Devolution: EDDC CEO asks us to trust him and Diviani … … | East Devon Watch

No comments: