West of England councils agree to devolution deal

The councils of Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire have voted to give their consent for the West of England devolution deal.

Following the decision by the three councils to move forward with the proposed £1 billion West of England devolution deal in June, a West of England Combined Authority will now be established if it passes through a Parliamentary process without opposition.

The Combined Authority will be led by the new West of England Mayor and the Cabinet will be include Cllr Tim Warren, leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees and Cllr Matthew Riddle, leader of South Gloucestershire Council.

The West of England Combined Authority will manage new powers, funding and responsibilities handed from central Government to the region as part of the deal. As a result, more decisions will be made locally rather than nationally, including about spending on regional transport, housing, adult education and skills.

Cllr Tim Warren said: “We are pleased to move ahead with this deal, which is essential to delivering on our priorities of improving transport infrastructure, delivering affordable homes, and investing in the skills training needed for the local economy.

“This is the best possible deal for our area – and one that far outweighs any other devolution deal done elsewhere in the country, both in terms of the funding secured and safeguards in place to protect the absolute autonomy of Bath & North East Somerset Council.”

Bristol Mayor Rees added: “This deal has the potential to be the biggest change in local decision-making powers in the city region for generations. The three local authorities have worked hard to create a worthwhile offer to government and tried hard to get the most benefit for local people.

“This isn’t a cure-all and there will always be some strings attached. Making it truly work in the long term will take a lot of hard graft. This is only a first step and as we think ahead to the even greater opportunities offered by future devolution deals, we must ensure this is properly resourced to get the best deal for Bristol and the city region.”