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Monday, 25 July 2016

Devolution for Devon and Somerset? >>> a call for public consultation and more concrete facts

The Leader of the County Council had been making very unhappy noises about the 'devolution deal' on offer:
Futures Forum: Devon County Council and devolution: "It seems Councillor Hart will proceed no further without much more assurance about what’s in it for Devon."

However, things seem to be moving forward:
Futures Forum: Devolution for Devon and Somerset? >>> a done deal?

Back at the beginning of the month, this reassuring message was sent out by the County Council press office:

Heart of the South West devolution partners to consider Combined Authority

 


Posted on: 1 July 2016

Councils across Devon and Somerset have been reassured that their devolution proposals do not require an elected mayor.

At a recent summit meeting with council leaders, Local Government Secretary Greg Clark said Government would not impose an elected Mayor as part of any Heart of the South West (HotSW) Devolution Partnership deal.

New powers would instead be overseen by a Combined Authority consisting of representatives of Devon and Somerset county councils, Plymouth and Torbay councils, the 13 district councils in the two counties and Dartmoor and Exmoor national parks.

Leaders of the councils and partners have already backed the plan. Each authority will now be asked to formally sign-up to the principle of creating a Combined Authority which would allow the negotiations towards a deal to move forward.


Heart of the South West devolution partners to consider Combined Authority | News centre

The questions keep piling in, however...

Where's the money going to come from?

Without being a pedant, technically much of what we see in England is delegation and not devolution.

Local enterprise: unlocking public sector entrepreneurialism | Public Finance
Devolution – really delegation without funding | East Devon Watch

Why the lack of real consultation?

As reported in the Herald:

Cabinet agrees to continue East Devon devolution talks ‘in principle’

21 July 2016


A draft version of the map to be submitted to the Government as part of the Heart of the South West devolution proposition. Picture: Submitted


Councillors call for public consultation and more concrete facts

Talks on the devolution of power from Westminster to East Devon will continue ‘in principle’ amid calls for a public consultation and more concrete facts.

If successful, the Heart of the South West (HOTSW) bid would see local authorities work with the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to take on more responsibility for economic growth and infrastructure in the region.

East Devon District Council’s cabinet agreed to carry on the conversation in principle at a meeting last Wednesday (July 13) but there was a consensus that more ‘concrete facts’ are needed.

Councillor Cathy Gardner said: “One thing that has concerned me since the beginning of this process is the complete absence of a public consultation. It could have a huge impact. It would be remiss of us to take this forward without seeing what people want.” EDDC’s full council will need to give the final go-ahead to continue talks.


Cabinet agrees to continue East Devon devolution talks ‘in principle’ - News - Sidmouth Herald

And in the EDW blog:


EDDC votes to continue devolution deal despite absence of consultation and facts 


21 JULY 2016

Talks on the devolution of power from Westminster to East Devon will continue ‘in principle’ amid calls for a public consultation and more concrete facts.

If successful, the Heart of the South West (HOTSW) bid would see local authorities work with the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to take on more responsibility for economic growth and infrastructure in the region.

East Devon District Council’s cabinet agreed to carry on the conversation in principle at a meeting last Wednesday (July 13) but there was a consensus that more ‘concrete facts’ are needed.

[Independent, East Devon Alliance] Councillor Cathy Gardner said: “One thing that has concerned me since the beginning of this process is the complete absence of a public consultation. It could have a huge impact. It would be remiss of us to take this forward without seeing what people want.”
  

EDDC’s full council will need to give the final go-ahead to continue talks.”

EDDC votes to continue devolution deal despite absence of consultation and facts | East Devon Watch

Why the lack of due process?

DEVOLUTION: HORSES, CARTS, STABLE DOORS …

23 JULY 2016

EDDC issues a press release on 21 July 2016 saying that on 13 July 2016 its Cabinet decided to press ahead with devolution plans:
Cabinet agrees to continue East Devon devolution talks ‘in principle’ - News - Midweek Herald

THEN

the Overview Committee discusses it on 28 July:
http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1774848/280616-overview-agenda-combined.pdf

And STILL we are not allowed our say!

Priceless.


Devolution: Horses, carts, stable doors … | East Devon Watch

And finally, local MPs themselves have several questions they're asking:


Devon and Somerset on cusp of devolution deal - but MPs want answers

By WMNKLangston | Posted: July 25, 2016

Devon and Somerset councils are reaching a critical stage in their bid for devolved powers, as they decide whether or not to accept a new combined authority model. All 17 councils involved in the joint devolution bid are required to vote on the proposals, before leaders can progress with negotiations over the summer. It is hoped this could see a deal announced in time for the Autumn statement – but there are concerns among MPs that the current bid lacks clarity.

South West Devon MP Gary Streeter, said he and fellow MPs "greatly recognise and applaud" the work that Devon and Somerset councils have put in so far. But at the moment they have "more questions than answers".

"I think over the next two to three months, when we sit down with the new secretary of state and council leaders, we're looking for those questions to be answered," he said. "This is not the fault of the councils, it's the fault of Government [that] it is still slightly vague and up in the air. We're not hostile, we're just cautious at this stage, and want these questions to be answered. We want more information about what the benefits will be to our constituents."


Devon and Somerset on cusp of devolution deal - but MPs want answers | Plymouth Herald
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