North Somerset Council’s members have this evening voted not to accept the devolution deal being offered by Government, which includes the requirement for a combined authority and directly elected mayor for the West of England. The decision follows that made by councillors in Bath and North East Somerset Council last month where they asked their leader to renegotiate the deal to remove the requirement for a directly elected mayor.
Cllr Nigel Ashton, Leader of the Council said: “I am disappointed that despite all our efforts, the deal proposed by Government is not attractive enough for us to support.
“I believe strongly, and this view has been supported by my fellow councillors this evening, that we shouldn’t accept the deal offered in March. Devolution of funding from central government is attractive in principle, but not at any cost. We have worked hard with our fellow West of England partners to get the best available deal for the area, but too much remains that we are not prepared to support.
“We have a great track record of successful joint working across the region, and we can continue this without the additional costly and bureaucratic layer of decision-making that a combined authority and metro mayor would bring. Prior to the Council’s decision we asked our town and parish councils and local residents to give us their views on the proposed deal, and the vast majority have expressed a similar view, and do not want an additional level of government or metro mayor.
“I will be contacting the Bristol mayor and the leaders of Bath and North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire tomorrow to appeal to them to join me in getting a better deal, and one which we can all support.
“We remain committed to continued joint working with our neighbouring councils, and with their support we will unite in going back to Government to secure delivery of a deal that reflects the needs of the West of England.”
The other three councils in the West of England are due to meet on Wednesday June 29to decide whether to accept the deal or not.