Greater powers – yes – but we don’t want Avon back again. That’s the mission statement of the Leader of B&NES Council, Cllr Tim Warren, who is quoted in a report on devolution by David Paine contained in the latest on-line issue of the Local Government Chronicle.
I quote David’s feature in full. The Local Government Chronicle is reachable via www.lgcplus.com
“Councils in the south-west will submit a bid for extra powers to the government before tomorrow’s deadline, LGC can reveal.
The proposals from the West of England Partnership – made up of Bristol City Council, Bath & North East Somerset Council, North Somerset Council, and South Gloucestershire Council – include gaining powers and controls over skills, as well as transport and broadband infrastructure, and fiscal freedoms.
However, there are no plans to take on the role of the police and crime commissioner or control health and social care budgets as local leaders do not believe the area is large enough to justify taking control of these areas.
Such proposals would also trigger the need to adopt an elected mayor, a contentious issue in the region which has not yet been resolved, according to Bath & North East Somerset’s leader Tim Warren (Con).
Cllr Warren, who is also chair of the region’s strategic leaders’ board, told LGC: “The mayoral issue will be a stopping point for me and will be for all of us so we will be negotiating that. We don’t need a mayor.”
In July, LGC reported that the West of England Partnership had started a governance review as a step towards developing a detailed case for devolved powers.
The review is expected to take between nine and 18 month to complete. A spokesman for Bristol told LGC at the time of the launch that the review did not preclude the region from submitting a bid.
Cllr Warren said a combined authority was likely to be formed but added leaders “don’t want and won’t accept” a reformation of Avon CC, which previously covered the same local authority footprint as the four councils. It was abolished in 1996.
A spokesman for Bristol told LGC this week: “We are working closely and productively with our partners across the West of England with a view to obtaining devolved powers.”
LGC reported yesterday that most cities and counties are due to submit bids for devolution ahead of tomorrow’s deadline.