Friday, 9 December 2016

The increasing confusion of choices for devolution >>> >>> Heart of the South West LEP..... or: Greater South West..... or: Greater Exeter Growth and Development Board............. or: An Exeter/Plymouth/Torbay supermayor

Back in the summer, it was full steam ahead for the joining up of Devon and Somerset - without a mayor and without much accountability:
Futures Forum: Devolution for Devon and Somerset? >>> as the counties are set to become a 'combined authority', a parliamentary committee says "It is alarming that Local Enterprise Partnerships are not meeting basic standards of governance and transparency."

Last month. however, there were reports that 'unitary authorities' (ie, no District Councils) were being considered as a real money-saver:
Unitary councils “save money” … yet a few years ago – they didn’t! | East Devon Watch
Local government reorganisation: switch to unitaries ‘could save £2.9bn’ | Public Finance

And last week, next door in Dorset, there have been moves towards just that:
Dorset residents support local government shake up - LocalGov.co.uk - Your authority on UK local government
Dorset residents support plans to reduce council numbers
Public shows clear support for merging Dorset's nine councils into two (From Bridport and Lyme Regis News)

Meanwhile, there are increasing worries about the hollowing-out of local democracy that is actually being proposed by the various 'devolution' proposals:

‘Devolution: Beyond the rhetoric’ 
challenges the Government narrative on devolution. It explores the extent of the devolved power deficit in comparison to the vast amounts of new risk and responsibility devolved to local government. 
Real power, real budgets and real revenue raising capacity remain at the whim of Whitehall. 
Purported opportunities around business rate retention and the lack of political Introduction will to address long-standing issues with council tax provide clear examples of this. 
This think piece argues that without true devolution of power, the potential contribution of local government towards a prosperous future for people and place is in danger of drowning in a mire of unnecessary fiscal constraints and excessive levels of localised risk.

‘Devolution: Beyond the rhetoric’ - Centre for Local Economic Strategies
Devolution: “flawed fiscal ‘power’, an unjust system, unfulfilled potential” | East Devon Watch

It now appears that movement is afoot over 'devolution' - as well as forming new 'business partnerships' - according to next week's District Council cabinet agenda:

"It is presently proposed that the desired formal body for the Exeter TTWA will be a ‘Greater Exeter Growth and Development Board’ (GEGDB) including the local authorities covering the Greater Exeter functional economic area."

Futures Forum: The Return of the East Devon Business Forum >>> or, the ‘Greater Exeter Growth and Development Board'

However, today has seen even faster movements over devolution - but in very different directions.

The East Devon Watch blog has been following things as they've unfolded:
South devon wants breakaway mini-devolution – north Devon excluded | East Devon Watch

Exeter/Plymouth/Torbay super- mayor? Meeting in Cullompton today | East Devon Watch
Could Plymouth, Torbay and Exeter be governed by a 'super mayor'? | Plymouth Herald

STOP PRESS: have Exeter and Plymouth just killed off the Devon and Somerset LEP? | East Devon Watch
More on those devolution shennanigans! | East Devon Watch
And now ANOTHER potential devolution deal to add to the mix! This one with government approval? | East Devon Watch

Devolution: more information on the Guy Fawkes-style plotting … | East Devon Watch
Plans for 'Super-mayor' for Plymouth and Exeter discussed at meeting | Exeter Express and Echo

Torbay wants in to the “Golden Triangle” ( let’s hope it isn’t a Bermuda Triangle!) | East Devon Watch
'Golden Triangle' could lead South Devon to new future worth hundreds of millions of pounds | Torquay Herald Express

At the end of the day, the East Devon Watch blog summarises:


9 DEC 2016

Owl THINKS these are the current choices:

Heart of the South West LEP – except Exeter, East Devon and Exeter are refusing to play. Does not include an elected mayor at present.

Greater South West – proposed by Communities Minister Sajid David – which seems to stretch from Dorset in the east, Somerset to the north and Cornwall in the south – and any other bits left out of other Devolution deals around that area. Does include an elected mayor.

Greater Exeter Travel to Work Area – East Devon, Exeter, Mid-Devon and Teignbridge – as proposed at the secretive Greater Exeter Visioning Board. Silent about whether it includes an elected mayor.

All permutations include adding unelected business people and a single focus – economic growth.

No-one seems to have put a simple unitary Devon in the melting pot, or a unitary combination chosen from a Devon/Cornwall/Dorset pick-and-mix. Nor has anyone spelled out the constitutional basis for these changes.

But it’s probably only a matter of time!

Could it be more complicated? Hardly.

Will it get sorted so that it benefits anyone but big businesses? Answers on a postcard to Paul Diviani, Leader, East Devon District Council!

Devolution for Dummies | East Devon Watch

Finally, a comment on who's leading the show:


Paul F says:
9 Dec 2016 at 4:02pm

The biggest issue is that all these discussions happen between CEOs and Leaders of councils without any input or authorisation or even knowledge of councillors.

The Greater Exeter partnership between Exeter, East Devon and Teignbridge was signed and announced in the press before councillors knew about it. Local people were never consulted at all.

That is the type of democracy that the LEPs represent i.e. none.

More on those devolution shennanigans! | East Devon Watch

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