Council leaders across Devon have told the Government they want to be one of the first counties to take advantage of a new offer to devolve more powers from London.
Devon County Council leader John Hart has written to the Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick to register their keen interest in taking on more powers.
Mr Hart wrote to the Minister on behalf of Team Devon which saw the county council coming together with district and town and parish councils to respond swiftly to all the extra needs and requirements of residents during the Covid crisis.
Dartmoor National Park Authority is also backing the bid. Mr Hart said the key priorities of any devolution deal would be to:
- Increase the supply of social housing and affordable homes for key workers
- Create a single pot of national and local funding to improve skills and training to increase business productivity and tackle poverty
- Promote a clean growth agenda that would see Devon achieve net zero carbon emissions with key priorities for transport, housing, energy and land use
- Support local regeneration and investment in coastal and market towns
Maximise pupil premium to raise the aspirations of Devon’s young people and promote social mobility
Mr Hart told Mr Jenrick: “Devon’s local authorities have unanimously welcomed the
opportunity for a county deal and want to make progress as quickly as possible.
“Our aspirations for Devon over the next 10 to 20 years are to build on economic opportunities -such as the potential for renewable energy and our world-leading climate science and data expertise – and tackle the deep-rooted problems of inequality and social mobility which reflect Devon’s demography and rurality.
“Our joint decisions about the use of Covid-19 funding, sharing of resources and mutual aid have been critical to the success of Devon’s response to the pandemic.
“This strength, confidence and trust provide the platform to move forward with levelling up Devon.”
Mr Hart said the starting point for the devolution deal was the administrative area of Devon but he had also spoken to Plymouth City Council and Torbay Council about priorities and areas of mutual interest.
Mr Hart went on: “I will also be liaising with Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset to discuss opportunities across the Great South West for a coordinated approach to transport, research and development and the transition to a zero-carbon economy which best reflects our rural peninsula.
“We are engaging with Devon businesses across a range of projects to better understand their needs around workforce, leadership and management, connectivity and innovation.
“As a small business economy, we recognise the need to drive inclusive and sustainable growth through working closely with our business community.
“We have support in principle from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (and) the county’s key employers, businesses, higher and further education institutions are amongst the stakeholders who would be key partners in our deal.
“In the longer term we will use a Devon Devolution Deal to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of those local public services that matter most to local people – for example reviewing the benefits of a single Devon waste collection and management system – and to embed best practice in service delivery across the whole county.
“I look forward to beginning the journey towards a Devon Devolution Deal that enables us to deliver for our people and communities across the county.”