New mayor for West of England set to be elected after devolution green light

November 30 2016

A MAYOR for the new organisation at the centre of a £1 billion devolution deal for South Gloucestershire and two neighbouring areas is set to be elected next May.

A MAYOR for the new organisation at the centre of a £1 billion devolution deal for South Gloucestershire and two neighbouring areas is set to be elected next May.
The West of England Combined Authority will go ahead after South Gloucestershire, Bristol and Bath and North East Somerset (BaNES) councils gave their consent for the parliamentary order for the deal.
 It will be led by the new West of England mayor, with a cabinet consisting of the South Gloucestershire Council leader, Matthew Riddle, Bristol’s mayor Marvin Rees and BaNES leader Tim Warren.
Once established, the authority will manage new powers, funding and responsibilities handed from central Government to the region as part of the deal.
The purpose behind the move is for more decisions to be made locally rather than nationally, including on spending for regional transport, housing, adult education and skills.
Councillor Riddle said: “Our deal is among the best negotiated in the country and will bring tangible benefits to people who live and work across the region.
“It will mean more local decision making on spending in key areas such as transport, housing and skills.”
 The process will now involve an order being laid before Parliament and considered at Commons and Lords committees.
It will lead to royal assent to the order, which is expected to be given before the Christmas recess.
But South Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats have criticised the devolution deal, saying a single mayor would make decisions for a wide area of the West of England - although without North Somerset, which voted against it.
Frampton Cotterell councillor Pat Hockey (Frampton Cotterell) said: “We are not getting powers, we’re losing them. We’re not gaining democracy, it’s being taken away from us.”
 Yate councillor Mike Drew said the money involved wasn’t index linked and claimed no government would be able to bind its successors to it. He also said the Government should be working with the other areas to try and bring North Somerset into the fold.
He said: “I’m not against a combined authority but we need to take the time to get it right.”