Devon/Somerset devolution: a democratic deficit black hole

How many people realise that Devon-Somerset devolution initiative is being led, not by its councils, but by its Local Enterprise Partnership – a sort- of mega East Devon Business Forum? And that it is pressing ahead with its plans without any public consultation?

Click to access Devolution%20Statement%20of%20Intent%20(low%20res).pdf

Members of its board are listed here:

How many people realise that power over development and housing for the whole of Devon and Somerset is to be potentially given to Karim Hassan (former Regeneration supremo at EDDC and now Chief Executive of Exeter) and EDDC Leader Paul Diviani – both masterminds of Cranbrook?

Click to access Issue1HeartoftheSouthWestPadbrookPark__436306.pdf

This is what the Electoral Reform Society has to say about devolution deals in the north of England:

“The public shouldn’t just be given a yes/no option on a pre-agreed deal – we can’t have a fait accompli approach to devolution. There should be proper and meaningful consultation on the deal itself – what powers the public want the Combined Authority to have, and what they want their councils to do and look like in the 21st century.

“A piecemeal approach to engaging the public in the devolution debate isn’t sustainable. If citizens in County Durham are to be given a vote, it’s only right that citizens across the region should too.

How many people realise that the potential devolution of powers to Devon and Somerset are being led by its Local Enterprise Partnership (a collection of business people?

How many people realise that this partnership is suggesting that development and housing matters in the hands of Karim Hassan ( formerly head of Regeneration in East Devon and now Chief Executive of Exeter City Council) and EDDC council leader and Cranbrook apologist Paul Diviani?

“The Combined Authority said the public across the North East would be consulted – and we’ve yet to see what this will look like. It can’t be a tick-box exercise – 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. Local ‘Citizens’ Assemblies,’ like the ones we are running in Sheffield and Southampton, could be a great start.

“Let’s have a real debate about devolution and decentralisation. The ERS and leading academics are currently holding Citizens Assemblies in North and South that offer a promising model to follow in terms of engaging local people in the devolution agenda. Politicians in the region and the UK government would do well to watch them and build on them as a way to open up these discussions about where power should lie in our regions.”