West Devon responds to the proposed Devolution Deal

We are taking action to tackle the housing crisis, boost the local economy and work with communities to improve the area for future generations. It’s vital that a Devon and Torbay Devolution Deal supports this work and benefits the Borough.

That’s the message agreed at our Special Council meeting on 5 March. A formal response will now be submitted to the consultation on the proposed deal.

Leader of the Council, Mandy Ewings, said: “Everything we do as a Council is for our residents, businesses, and local communities. They are the heartbeat of all we do. We want to make sure that any devolution deal continues to benefit everyone we serve in West Devon.

“We have not stated if we support the proposal or not, but we recognise that, in order to benefit from any new agreement, we need to be around the table. Nevertheless, we do have several points that we are strongly urging all relevant parties to consider if and when the deal is being put in place.

“As a Council, we have agreed our priorities for the next four years and we are committed to delivering them. We now need to do everything we can to make sure that any devolved powers help us tackle local challenges and support our ambitions, not hinder them.”

The points of consideration outlined in the formal response relate to housing, the economy, voting rights, transport, and local communities. 

Housing is one of our priorities. We are taking big strides to rise to the challenges by working closely with local housing associations and other local authorities through groups such as the Devon Housing Taskforce, which is chaired by the Leader, Councillor Ewings. 

We want assurance that any new arrangements set up through devolution will help accelerate the delivery of affordable, safe, and quality housing in the Borough. It wants the expertise and recommendations of these groups to be used, rather than being duplicated or adding bureaucracy.

Progress is also being made by us to help businesses and the local economy flourish. It has successfully attracted additional funding through the UK Shared Prosperity programme and other sources and is using this money to directly benefit economic activity in the Borough. Work continues delivering a new transport hub in Okehampton and proposals for the Tavistock to Plymouth rail line to be reinstated are underway.

We consider it essential that any future funding streams are devolved down to local Districts so that it can continue the work already underway. Public transport is a particular issue in West Devon and so it urges that any devolution deal includes us in the development of a joint strategic transport plan to ensure that it meets local need.

Working with and for our communities is another key priority for us. Our communities and the voluntary sector play a critical part in helping it deliver a better future for West Devon. Through our response, we are asking for reassurance that the voice of these communities, including all local organisations and town and parish councils which deliver services at a local level, will be heard.

The Special Council meeting can be viewed in full on our YouTube channel