Local Authorities key in driving forward growth

A new national report published this week highlights the importance Local Authorities play in driving forward growth post COVID-19 – and features Somerset as a key success story.

The ‘Place-Based Recovery’ report, published by The County Council’s Network (CCN), highlights the importance local authorities have in driving forward investment, influence and action whilst supporting economic recovery and the green agenda.

Somerset’s Energy Innovation Centre features as a key success story – highlighting the importance of investing in infrastructure to support growth.

Following investment by Somerset County Council and working in partnership with key stakeholders, the Innovation Centre delivers economic opportunities in the low carbon and nuclear sector.

Following the success of this first centre, a further two phases have been developed to provide quality light industrial and office workspace.

The national report also sets out a number of ‘need to act at pace’ recommendations including devolving significant budgets and powers to Councils, ensuring recovery is attuned to local needs, aligning skills provision and growth and greater consideration of additional infrastructure requirements.

Leader of Somerset County Council, Cllr David Fothergill said: “COVID-19 has changed behaviour, disrupted economies and placed enormous pressure on public services. What remains clear, and as the report sets out, Local Authorities remain critical in supporting the UKs place-based economic recovery. COVID-19 has only strengthened the argument for a place-based response in relation to short-term economic recovery as well as the delivery of longer-term sustainable growth.”

The Devolution and Local Recovery Whitepaper is expected to be key in driving forward this agenda and Local Authorities will be at the forefront of these plans.

Cllr Fothergill added: “We eagerly await the publication of the Devolution and Local Recovery White Paper, expected this autumn, which will further support this Plan. The White Paper is expected to set out the most ambitious devolution agenda in 70 years, connecting local recovery with levelling up. It will set out the Government’s clear plans for more unitary councils, following in the footsteps of our neighbours who are already reaping the benefits of a single authority approach.”

This further supports the Council’s Plans to abolish all five Somerset Councils and replace it with a single Council approach bringing numerous benefits and opportunities to Somerset businesses and communities. Full Council approved the ‘One Somerset’ business plan at the end of July.

A link to the Place Based report can be found at: https://www.countycouncilsnetwork.org.uk/advocacy/publications-and-research/

For more information about One Somerset, visit http://www.onesomerset.org.uk. You can also stay up to date with the campaign on Twitter @One1Somerset and on Facebook @OneSomerset.