Devon and Somerset bid for more powers to boost prosperity

    Devon and Somerset bid for more powers to boost prosperity

    Devon and Somerset bid for more powers to boost prosperity

    Monday 01 February 2016

    Council chiefs and business leaders say they want a ‘devolution revolution’ to boost prosperity in Devon and Somerset.

    They have agreed to submit a prospectus to Government that would result in higher productivity and better-paid jobs, improved road, rail and broadband links and more homes for the region’s growing population.

    There would be radical reforms to integrate health and social care to allow the ageing population to be better looked after, tailored support for growing businesses and the creation of a centre of excellence for skills development.

    The bid follows months of concentrated work by council chiefs in Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay with 13 district councils, Dartmoor and Exmoor national parks, the local NHS and the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership.

    They want more powers and finance devolved from Westminster to the region so they can close the productivity gap and allow local people to benefit from a thriving economy.

    Currently productivity in the South West is running at less than 80 per cent of the national average.

    But the document promises that, if local councils have greater freedom to act, by 2030 they will help deliver:

    • £4 billion uplift to the economy
    • 163,000 new jobs
    • 179,000 more homes
    • Higher wage levels which are above the national average
    • Apprenticeship starts up by 400 per cent
    • Every young person in education, employment or training
    • A better qualified workforce
    • Faster, more reliable rail services with greater capacity
    • Faster road journeys with less congestion
    • 100 per cent superfast broadband coverage
    • A UK centre of excellence for skills development

    This is more growth than the three core cities of Birmingham, Bristol and Nottingham have delivered in total, together, over the last fifteen years.

    The bid points out that the South West already has world-beating expertise in a number of significant areas such as knowledge-based skills in Exeter, marine industries in Plymouth, nuclear technology at Hinkley Point and aerospace in Yeovil as well as its traditional industries like agriculture, fishing and tourism.

    Somerset County Council leader John Osman said: “This is a truly exciting opportunity for all the local authorities involved in this work. We have come together with the common aim of making the most of devolution for our residents and shared priorities around skills, employment and infrastructure.

    “The bid reflects our pride in what the region has to offer and our ambitions for its future potential. I look forward to taking the next steps with colleagues from across the South West.”

    END

    The Heart of the South West devolution partners are:

    • Heart of the South West LEP
    • Somerset County Council
    • Somerset’s district and borough councils: Mendip, Sedgemoor, South Somerset, Taunton Deane and West Somerset
    • Devon County Council
    • Devon’s district and borough councils: East Devon, Mid Devon, North Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge, Torridge and West Devon
    • Plymouth City Council
    • Exeter City Council
    • Torbay Council
    • Exmoor National Park
    • Dartmoor National Park
    • Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group
    • Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group
    • South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group

    A copy of the prospectus is available under related documents on the right hand side of this page.

    Contact:

    Debbie Rundle, on behalf of West Somerset Council,01984 635280 or 01823 356407 email d.rundle@tauntondeane.gov.uk