Devolution: pennies drop, the backlash begins …

“A bid to win fresh powers from Westminster has been submitted to the Government after every council in Devon and Somerset gave the document support.

Council chiefs and business leaders in Devon and Somerset have submitted their “prospectus for productivity” in the hope that devolved powers will boost jobs and growth.

They say they a “devolution revolution” would result in higher productivity and better-paid jobs, improved road, rail and broadband links and more homes.

However, business leaders have criticised the move as “dangerous” and likely to hike business rates and council tax bills to pay for the new responsibilities.

Tim Jones, chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Business Council, said: “The agenda has yet to clarify just what the implications are going to be for the business community.

“The business rates just don’t add up. There may be no growth or revenue may go down.

“In poor rural areas reductions could be 15 to 20% and those figures are not speculative.

“Local taxation could go up – we have already seen authorities putting up council tax and don’t want to see a never-ending spiral of increases.”