Majority back new West of England Mayor-led Authority

The people of B&NES seem to have given their support to the idea of a Mayor-led West of England Authority according to the majority of responses received by the council.

Residents have had the opportunity to have their say on the creation of a new combined authority (MCA) and a £1billion pound devolution deal put on the table by the Government.

Bath Guildhall
Bath Guildhall – headquarters of B&NES.

Responses were received from across public, business, education and voluntary sectors – with the majority of people expressing overall support for the deal.

Feedback was sought on four key areas of the proposed devolution deal: Decision making, Place (transport and housing), People (adult education and skills), and Business.

From the 2,011 responses received across the region; 1,109 (55%) said that, on balance, they believe that a West of England Mayoral Combined Authority would benefit the West of England region. 674 (34%) said that they did not agree, and 176 (9%) said that they did not know. 52 respondents (2%) did not answer. Details have been published on the West of England Devolution site

Together with Bristol and South Gloucestershire councils, Bath & North East Somerset Council will submit a joint consultation report to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. The Secretary of State will review the findings of this consultation alongside the Strategic Governance Review, the proposed Governance Scheme and any other representations that have been made directly.

The public responded both online, on paper and in some cases directly to government. Information and surveys were made available through local libraries, Citizen Service Points and One Stop Shops, as well as via parish councils and community facilities.

A series of public drop-in events were also held – publicised via local radio, newspapers, social media and council websites. In addition, the councils also received direct feedback from a variety of people – through face-to-face contact at the public events and via letters and emails.

Cllr Tim Warren (Conservative, Mendip), Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “We’re grateful to everyone who took part in the public consultation and attended the public events. I am pleased that overall the public supported the deal.

“The next step will be for the Secretary of State to consider the results and based on the comments received to determine if the deal goes ahead. Finally each Council will be asked to endorse his decision in October.  It is at that time all three authorities independently will come to a balanced view about what will be best for their areas.”

If it is agreed that the MCA should go ahead, it would be established in the first part of 2017, with elections for the position of West of England Mayor to take place across all three local government areas – Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire – in May 2017.