Dan Peters 17 February 2017

West of England devo deal gets the go-ahead

Communities minister Andrew Percy has given the go-ahead for the west of England combined authority headed by a directly-elected mayor.

Bristol City Council, and South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset councils will make up the combined authority, which will have powers over planning, housing, transport and skills in the region, as well as control over an investment fund of £30m a year for the next 30 years to encourage economic growth.

However, North Somerset Council decided not to get involved in the authority, raising doubts about the viability of the initiative.

In a joint statement, the leaders of South Gloucestershire and Bath & North Somerset, and the mayor of Bristol, said: ‘The West of England combined authority has been established to deliver a devolution deal which unlocks £1bn of funding for the area, helping us to further tackle priorities such as improving transport infrastructure, delivering affordable homes and investing in the skills training needed for the local economy.

‘It is now our task to ensure we establish robust systems, including scrutiny and audit, that can help ensure the benefits of the deal can be used effectively within the region.

‘We will also plan ahead to secure even greater opportunities offered by future devolution deals.’

Mr Percy added: ‘This order is a crucial next step in devolving powers straight from Whitehall to the west of England.

‘It will give the region direct control over its future, a brand new, directly-elected mayor and almost £1bn over the next 30 years to support economic growth.

‘We can roll ahead and devolve power to local leaders who know their areas best.’

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