Devolution deal for Devon, Plymouth and Torbay moves a step closer

A landmark devolution deal for the greater Devon region, which transfers new money and powers into the hands of local Leaders across Devon, Plymouth and Torbay, has moved a step closer today with the backing of the Government’s Levelling Up Minister Dehenna Davison.

What then happens to the unaccountable, unelected: “Heart of the South West” LEP and “The great South West”? – Owl

Joseph Bulmer

Outline approval has been given for a Devon-wide devolution deal which could bring greater local control and allow partners to tap into additional resources to help tackle key local priorities such as affordable housing, better public transport and connectivity, and providing for the skills the local economy needs.

Importantly, the deal would not require a change to the established democratic structures across the area or the need for an elected Mayor as in other devolution deals across the country.

Instead, the new powers would be devolved to a partnership of existing local councils who would deliver on a joint programme working alongside a wide range of other local stakeholders.

Local partners across Devon have now been invited to work together to prepare a Final Business Case to present to Government for final approval later in the year.

Any final deal would require local consent with the full agreement of all the constituent councils as well as Parliamentary approval.

Welcoming the opportunity and Government’s backing for a local deal without the need for an elected mayor, councillor John Hart, Leader of Devon County Council and Chair of the local Devolution Partnership said: “This could be an important first step towards getting more local control to deliver on the big issues affecting local people and help us get access to much needed new investment.

“At its heart, it is all about building a better future for our children and young people, creating more opportunities for all, and backing local people and businesses to succeed.

“We have a strong local partnership and a devolution deal would bring new local powers and fresh resources to help us work together to tackle the big local priorities such as affordable housing, better public transport and providing for the skills our economy needs.

“We have been talking with the Government about this for some time and now it’s time to deliver.”

Cllr Steve Darling, Leader of Torbay Council, said: “This is a welcome opportunity to work with partners across Devon and with Government to build on the foundations we are already putting in place around our electronics, photonics, tourism and fishing industries. We hope that this will accelerate our plans to ensure our residents have the skills, housing and infrastructure to benefit from a brighter, thriving place.

“The partnership administration in Torbay has sought, over the past four years, to empower its community more and we anticipate that this deal will now empower communities across Devon with powers that have previously been ceded to central government. We have an ambitious agenda for making Torbay the premier resort in the UK and are keen to work with partners across the area to drive the regeneration and growing aspirations of our local communities.

“Whilst we are at the early stage of these negotiations, we expect that a Devolution Deal will enable us to tackle the challenges that Torbay faces including our housing crisis, climate change and the need for better paid jobs for local people.”

Cllr Phil Bialyk, Leader of Exeter City Council and Chair of the Devon Districts Forum, said: “We’ve been speaking to the Government about the need for a devolution deal which maintains the current structure of local councils while providing access to much-needed new funding for Devon.

“This has been a real partnership approach, and it is great that the Government appears to understand that by working together locally with key stakeholders we can achieve great things for all of our residents throughout the county.”