“The dreadful “Devolution” proposals from the Heart Of The South West Local Enterprise Partnership were endorsed by South Hams District Council today – but not before Opposition Group of councillors had put up a big fight. Here is what one of them said:
“The Government has taken away the funds that local authorities were once spending to meet the needs of local people – for affordable homes, care services, repairing local roads etc. It now offers to give back £195.5 million – but only if we endorse a package of megaprojects in which we have had no say.
This is coercion, not ‘devolution’. The decisions about how this council spent its money were once democratically decided; the proposals in this Devolution Prospectus were not. It is not the economic recovery plan that residents would have created themselves if they had been given the opportunity.
ROADS. The Government has taken away the money that County Councils once used to maintain local and rural roads – and then gives the LEP this money for major road projects that are not our top priority.
ENERGY. Government cuts to Feed In Tariffs have wiped out hundreds of community-led renewable energy projects across the South West but now they propose to pump £20,000,000,000 – Twenty Billion Pounds – into subsidising the Hinkley C Nuclear Power Station over the next three decades – a 50% subsidy, that has no mandate from local people, for a project that may only start in 2025 and maybe never.
HOUSING. There are proposals to build 179,000 new houses across Devon and Cornwall – but the plan ignores the priorities of all the Councils across the South West that want affordable housing for local people – not unregulated market housing. Whilst “Housing” is mentioned repeatedly, three key words are totally missing from this document – “affordable”, “social” and “rented”. Those are the kinds of houses we most urgently need, not commercial housing.
This proposal is an attack on Democracy; its priorities are not the priorities of local people; it puts the needs of big business before the needs of local people and it is helping to bail out businesses, such as Hinkley C, that are nowhere near being financially viable without massive subsidy.”