'Ambitious' devolution deal to create thousands of jobs

PUBLISHED: 17:00 12 September 2015

Picture: Simon Williams submitted to weston.iwitness24.co.uk.

Picture: Simon Williams submitted to weston.iwitness24.co.uk.

(c) copyright citizenside.com

A CROSS-COUNTY devolution bid has been made in Somerset to make it a 'powerhouse' in the South West.

Somerset County Council is working with 19 authorities, including councils in Devon, to ‘set the scene’ for which powers could be devolved from Government.

During the Scottish referendum for independence, political leaders promised more powers would be devolved from Westminster.

They also gave councils the opportunity to apply for more powers.

The councils want more power over economic growth and productivity, health and social care, and infrastructure.

Its statement of intent to the Government says: “We are signalling our offer to contribute more to the nation’s economic success and become the heart of the South West powerhouse.”

Somerset County Council leader John Osman said: “A lot of authorities have done a lot of work in a very short time to prepare this document.

“That’s another example of what can be achieved when authorities in the region pull together where we have common ground.

“These are very early stages, but we are ambitious and believe that devolution would help us create jobs, build the right infrastructure and make progress on key issues like health and social care integration.”

The councils say devolution would make the public sector more efficient and save money by reducing bureaucracy.

If the deal is to go through, council leaders would want to see 163,000 new jobs, 179,000 new homes and three per cent growth in the economy every year.

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