This June, Bristol City Council voted to move forward with a proposed £1 billion West of England devolution deal. But what is devolution and what does it mean for the city?
What is devolution?
Devolution is where national government gives more powers and funding to local government.
What is the West of England Devolution Deal?
In March 2016, the Government offered the West of England a devolution deal worth £1 billion. Bristol City Council, as well as Bath & North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire Councils, have now voted to move forward to the next stage of this deal – a public consultation.
North Somerset Council voted not to be part of the deal on 7 June 2016.
What does this deal mean?
This deal could provide new money and powers for areas such as housing, transport and skills. It brings decision-making powers, on issues that were previously held by central government, closer to local communities here in Bristol.
For example, it could give the city extra powers to tackle important issues such as developing affordable housing, increasing access to apprenticeships and enhancing the range and accessibility of local rail services.
How would it work?
The three councils would work together as a West of England Mayoral Combined Authority to oversee the new funding and powers. This is not a return to the former Avon County Council. Each council would retain its responsibilities and continue to run local services for its own area.
A requirement of the deal would be for the public to elect a West of England Mayor (in May 2017) who would oversee the new funding and powers.
The West of England Mayor, the leaders of Bath & North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire Councils and the Mayor of Bristol would be the members of the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority.
This West of England Mayor would not replace Bristol’s directly elected Mayor or the elected leaders of Bath & North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire councils.
How can I have my say?
A public consultation is now open giving people living in Bristol, Bath and South Gloucestershire the chance to have their say on the creation of a West of England Mayoral Combined Authority. You can take part in the following ways:
- Online: www.westofenglanddevolution.co.uk
- Paper copies of the survey will be available from local libraries, Customer Service Points and One Stop Shops from 14 July – or by calling 0117 922 2848.
- Other formats such as braille are also available by calling 0117 922 2848.
- An audio version is available now on the website.
Why should I take part?
“Now more than ever our region needs to be in charge of its own destiny. I would urge everyone in the city to take part in this consultation. It is a challenging topic, but we hope the process of consultation is an opportunity for people to get a better understanding of what is on offer and give their views on how it could work in the best interests of the people of Bristol."
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol