Devon/Somerset devolution: DCC Tories and Labour votes Yes on deal that scrutiny committee savaged

From the blog of EDA Councillor Martin Shaw:

“Most Labour members joined the Conservative majority on Thursday in voting down my amendment for the County Council to revisit its controversial ‘devolution’ proposals to join Devon with Somerset in the so-called Heart of the South West, first in a formal Joint Committee and then (envisaged but not proposed at this stage) in a Combined Authority. I argued that the proposals for an extra layer of bureaucracy have no democratic consent – they were not even in the Conservatives’ Devon manifesto last May.

I argued that we were being asked to support ‘a regional economic strategy that doesn’t add up to a government which doesn’t know what it’s doing about devolution, and for this we’re prepared to enter a half-baked new constitutional arrangement which will probably have to be scrapped as soon as a more rational government devolution policy is devised.’

Six of Labour’s Exeter members followed the line of Exeter City Council which is joining the Tory-run County and district councils in supporting the current devolution proposals (one abstained). They believe that Exeter’s economy will gain from the (currently unknown) amount of money the devolution bid will gain from government (which of course will be giving back a small proportion of the money it is currently taking from services). I argued that the plan does not have a viable economic strategy behind it, and that rural, coastal and small-town Devon stands to gain virtually nothing from it.

Liberal Democrat and Green councillors joined Independents in voting for my amendment. The webcast will be available here:”

Labour joins Tories at Devon County Council to support joint ‘devolution’ with Somerset, against Independent, Lib Dem and Green opposition

More pain for our LEP’s “productivity strategy”

Office for Budget Responsibility downgrades its productivity growth targets.

Will our councillors on the “Joint Committee” with our LEP show similar responsibility?

“… The Office for National Statistics reported last week that the UK’s level of productivity fell 0.3 per cent in the three months to June, meaning that the national output per hour worked is below where it was in the final quarter of 2007, almost a decade ago.

The OBR said that the recent productivity fall was “almost certainly” exacerbated by the impact of the 2016 Brexit vote, but it added that the weakness in productivity since the financial crisis was a global phenomenon too.

The OBR had projected in March that UK productivity would grow by 1.6 per cent in 2017, by1.5 per cent in 2018, by 1.7 per cent in 2019, and 1.8 per cent in 2020.

“It no longer seems central to assume that productivity growth will recover to the 1.8 per cent we assumed in March 2017 within five years,” the OBR said on Tuesday.

“We expect to lower our forecast for cumulative potential productivity growth significantly over the next five years, without going so far as to assume that there is no recovery at all from the very weak performance of recent years.”