Full Council backs Joint Committee plans

Somerset County Council’s Full Council today approved proposals to take the next step towards a potential Devolution deal.

It backed a set of recommendations to establish a Joint Committee for the Heart of the South West (HotSW) area that would be the vehicle to take forward positive discussions with Government about Devolution.

For more than two years Somerset and Devon county, unitary and district councils, along with Clinical Commissioning Groups, National Parks and the Local Enterprise Partnership have been working towards a Devolution deal to bring additional funding and decision making powers to the local level and use them to help increase productivity and economic prosperity.

Partners have committed to taking the same recommendations through their decision-making processes before mid-January. If all 23 approve, the Joint Committee would be set-up early next year.

Councillor David Fothergill, Leader of Somerset County Council and Chair of the Shadow Joint Committee, said: “We have seen Devolution deals in neighbouring areas draw down significant extra funding from Government. It’s important that we have a mechanism to do the same.

“The Joint Committee would be the next step on the journey without committing anyone to the end destination, giving us a clear voice to speak clearly to Government”.

The Joint Committee, which would be made up of representatives from all 23 organisations, would have no decision making powers beyond approving a Productivity Strategy for the Devon and Somerset. It would not deliver services or run contracts, but would coordinate work to deliver the Productivity Strategy once this is in place and, importantly, become the route for any future negotiations towards Devolution.

The organisations that make up the HotSW devolution partnership are: Dartmoor National Park Authority, Devon County Council, East Devon District Council, Exeter City Council, Exmoor National Park Authority, Mendip District Council, Mid Devon District Council, North Devon Council, Plymouth City Council, Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset County Council, South Hams District Council  , South Somerset District Council, Torbay Council, Taunton Deane Borough Council, Teignbridge District Council, Torridge District Council, West Devon Borough Council, West Somerset Council, Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (the LEP), NHS Northern, Eastern and Weston Devon Clinical Commissioning Group.