Heart of the South West devolution
South Devon Watch:
Stop the ‘unlawful’ devolution process
in Devon and Somerset
This says exactly what needs to be said about the Devon-Someset ‘devolution’ bid.
“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…
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‘To most people “devolution” implies greater local involvement, local democratic power’, says the East Devon Alliance in a new Press Release (full text here), ‘but the process being followed for the “Heart of the South West” devolution bid has no democratic element at all:
- Input has been sought from the business community but neither the public nor elected Councillors have been consulted about either the process or on the content of the bid
- The information submitted so far has the logos of the Councils and implies endorsement by council members that has neither been explicitly sought or given
- The seven Nolan Principles have not been followed.’
EDA calls for the Heart of the South West devolution planning process to be more open and democratic, that both the public and elected representatives are regularly consulted, and that decisions involving the use of public funds (e.g. business rate revenue) to be made in public by accountable, elected representatives.
Our county and district councils are steaming ahead with proposals for devolution in the daftly named ‘Heart of the South West’ (that’s Devon and Somerset to you and me) to be agreed on 18 December and then submitted to Government. They hope it will all be done and dusted by March. Apart from an odd piece in the local press, what do most people know about this? I’d always thought that ‘devolution’ was about more democracy, not less.
On Wednesday 2nd December, at 3pm, EDDC has scheduled a special extra meeting of Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee, the sole opportunity for the press and public to be present at a devolution discussion. This will prepare the ground for the Cabinet Committee at 5.30pm when EDDC Leader’s delegated powers for ‘Heart of the South West’ are expected to be pushed through.