County Councillors back proposals for combined authority
county councillors have this week backed a big step forward in
devolution discussions following positive early talks with the
On Monday (July 11th), Somerset County Councils Cabinet
signed up to the principle of creating a new combined authority
which would take responsibility for extra powers and budgets agreed
in any devolution deal.
It comes after the County Council and 22 other authorities across
Somerset and Devon recently submitted proposals for more powers
to be devolved to the local level.
Heart of the South West (HotSW) Devolution partnership says it
can deliver big benefits in sectors like skills, employment, housing
and social care.
All the members of the partnership are this month seeking formal
agreement to the principle of a combined authority. This follows
a meeting with the Local Government Secretary Greg Clark when
he confirmed that an elected Mayor would not be essential to a
Councillor John Osman, Leader of Somerset County Council, pictured
right, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "There is a long way
to go, but this decision is an important step along the way. It
opens the way for more detailed discussions with government which
I firmly believe could result in a devolution deal that delivers
big benefits for the people of Somerset and Devon."
"We firmly believe that we are best-placed to understand
the area, address its challenges and build on its strengths. I
want more decisions about Somerset to be taken closer to Somerset."
If all partners agree in principle to the creation of a combined
authority, discussions will continue with Government about what
powers and budgets it is willing to devolve and when.
The details of how a combined authority would work are still to
be discussed, but it would be made up of representatives from
the partners. It would not take over any powers or funding from
existing authorities and they would have a say in the constitution
and decision-making powers of the new body.
Consultation on any proposal to introduce a combined authority
will take place as part of the negotiation process with the Government
and is required before an Order can be made in Parliament to establish
such an authority.
The HotSW Devolution partnership consists of Somerset and Devon
County Councils, 13 district councils, Plymouth City and Torbay
councils, Exmoor and Dartmoor National Parks, and three Clinical
Productivity in the South West is currently at less than 80 per
cent of the national average.
document says devolved powers and finance from Westminster would
bring higher productivity, better-paid jobs, improved road, rail
and broadband links and more homes for the regions growing
There would also be radical reforms to integrate health and social
care to allow the ageing population to be better looked after,
tailored support for growing businesses and the creation of a
centre of excellence for skills development.
full Prospectus for Productivity can be found here.