Government gives go-ahead for County Deal for Devon, Plymouth and Torbay
Devon Council leaders have welcomed Government backing for a Devon, Plymouth and Torbay County Deal aimed at delivering on key economic and social priorities for the area.
The announcement by Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove commits the Government to working with a strong partnership of councils on the detail of a deal as part of the Government's levelling up policy.
When finalised, it's hoped the County Deal with Government will provide councils across Devon, Plymouth and Torbay with extra powers and influence to improve economic and social conditions in all the communities they serve.
The coalition of Councils including Torridge have identified skills and training, affordable housing, health and social care, and transport and digital connectivity as priorities to help tackle inequality and poor social mobility.
Alongside these challenges are opportunities for clean economic growth which it is hoped an eventual deal with Government will help realise.
Cllr John Hart, Leader of Devon County Council, said:
"I warmly welcome today's announcement. This is a ground-breaking opportunity for our councils working as a strong team to partner with Government on a deal that's right for all our communities and best for business.
Our councils are ambitious to spread opportunity and prosperity to all parts of Devon, Plymouth and Torbay, to end deep-rooted inequalities in our cities, towns, rural and coastal communities, and fulfil the huge potential for clean economic growth. Working with Government we have within our grasp the opportunity to transform the future for people and communities right across Devon.
We want to drive up skills and training, create many more opportunities for our young people to live and work in our wonderful county. We want to deliver more affordable homes that meet the needs of local people and capitalise on our world-leading expertise in marine technologies and climate change research."
Cllr Ken James, Leader of Torridge District Council, said:
"Torridge District Council have given this initiative their full backing and we look forward to it delivering the projects that will emerge to be funded under the scheme. The collaborative approach should help us lever more investment into the area for the benefit of all the partners and the residents they represent. Although we will continue with our own local regeneration and improvement projects alongside those that are developed from this deal, the announcement mirrors our collective belief that we will be able to achieve a lot more by working together. This is another milestone towards helping Northern Devon grow and prosper."
Devon, Plymouth and Torbay County, Unitary and District councils view work on the Deal with Government as a natural and logical next step in a strong track record of partnership work across Devon and the South West. A Deal will provide opportunities for deeper collaboration with stakeholders such as universities, colleges, business, the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors, National Parks, town and parish councils.
There is no requirement nor plan for local government reorganisation or elected Mayors. Council leaders want to avoid disruption to services and additional layers of bureaucracy. Instead, they are considering the establishment of a non-mayoral combined authority that would enable councils to work together strategically whilst respecting the sovereignty of their respective authorities.