Leaders buoyed by constructive devolution meeting

Posted on: 22 January 2018

Heart of the South West devolution proposals took a significant step forward last week when partners had a positive meeting with key civil servants.

Leaders and Chief Executives representing local authorities from Somerset, Devon, Plymouth, Torbay, Exeter and East Devon alongside the Local Enterprise Partnership met with staff from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. They discussed how they and the Government could work together to grow the region’s economy and improve productivity through a devolution deal and agreed to hold regular meetings to move the ambitious plans forward.

For well over two years Somerset and Devon county, unitary and district councils, along with Clinical Commissioning Groups, National Parks and the Local Enterprise Partnership have been working towards a devolution deal. It would potentially bring additional funding and decision making powers to the local level to help increase productivity and economic prosperity.

Leader of Mid Devon District Council, Clive Eginton, said: “Being part of the Heart of the South West team is an important role for us as a Council, to ensure we can get our share of growth and development for the people and businesses of Mid Devon.  Issues that really matter to our residents’ everyday lives such as transport links, homes, broadband and the challenges facing rural communities were all discussed at length.”

A Joint Committee for the Heart of the South West area (HotSW) is being set-up; a move agreed by all 23 partnership organisations. It will be a vehicle for further devolution discussions with Government and the delivery of a Productivity Strategy across the area. It is due to meet for the first time in March.

A devolution deal for the area would potentially see the partners take responsibility for extra powers and budgets with the aim of delivering huge benefits for all residents including higher productivity, better-paid jobs, improved road, rail and broadband links and more affordable homes for the region.

Cllr Eginton added: “I am hopeful that through this platform we can develop our vision for Mid Devon, and the South West as a whole, and I am confident by working together all of our communities  and businesses can prosper.”

All the authorities worked together to jointly submit a Productivity Prospectus to the Government outlining the region’s case in February 2016. The full Prospectus for Productivity can be found on the County Council website  https://somersetnewsroom.com/devolution/.  This work will culminate in a Productivity Strategy being agreed by the HotSW Joint Committee at its first formal meeting on 2 March 2018.

The partners that make up the HotSW devolution partnership are: Dartmoor National Park Authority, Devon County Council, East Devon District Council, Exeter City Council, Exmoor National Park Authority, Mendip District Council, Mid Devon District Council, North Devon Council, Plymouth City Council, Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset County Council, South Hams District Council, South Somerset District Council, Torbay Council, Taunton Deane Borough Council, Teignbridge District Council, Torridge District Council, West Devon Borough Council, West Somerset Council, Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (the LEP), NHS Northern, Eastern and Weston Devon Clinical Commissioning Groups.

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Posted in: My Council