Public consultation on the creation of a new West of England Mayoral Combined Authority (MCA) - including how this combined authority would work and what it means - is now open. This follows the decision of Bath & North East Somerset Council, along with Bristol and South Gloucestershire councils, to move forward with a £1 billion devolution deal from Government.
The MCA would manage new powers, funding and responsibilities that would be handed from central Government to the region as part of the deal. As a result, more decisions could be made locally, rather than nationally, about spending on regional transport, housing, adult education and skills, for example.
The consultation runs from Monday 4 July 2016 until 15 August 2016 and is being run jointly by Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol, and South Gloucestershire councils – meaning residents from all three geographic areas will be invited to take part.
The results will be considered by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government who will take account of the views of the public when deciding whether the West of England devolution deal should go ahead. The deal will then be subject to final endorsement at a local level.
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.
Residents across the three areas are being asked to provide feedback on four key areas of the proposed devolution deal: Decision making, Place (transport and housing), People (adult education and skills), and Business.
How to have your say:
Cllr Tim Warren (Conservative, Mendip) Leader of B&NES Council, said: “This deal – worth more than £1,000 per head of population – far outweighs any other devolution deal done elsewhere in the country.
“This represents the best possible deal both in terms of the funding secured and safeguards in place to protect the absolute autonomy of Bath & North East Somerset Council.
“By unlocking £1 billion of additional funding over the next 30 years, this deal will give us greater freedom to plan for the future, invest in much-needed new infrastructure, and deliver the new homes and jobs our area will need in the years ahead.
“Your say is very important. This deal is about stability and investment over the next three decades – it will affect you and your children. Therefore I encourage everybody to get involved and have your say on these important plans.”
There will also be a number of ‘roadshow’ events held throughout the area at which residents can find out more and give their feedback, as well as completing the consultation online.
Roadshow events in Bath and North East Somerset:
For more information, including updates on other events, visit www.westofenglanddevolution.co.uk or follow @WofEDevo on Twitter.