1. ITV Report

The return of Avon: Osborne announces devolution plans

Photo: ITV News

The Chancellor George Osborne has announced plans to devolve more powers to West Councils - but only if they agree to have an elected mayor for the whole region.

The four councils in the old Avon area would become The West of England Combined Authority, represented by a new figurehead.

The deal is tied to having an elected mayor which will be in charge of the Avon area and would sit above the Bristol mayor.

Credit: ITV West Country
people in the West of England region

Critics say it has echoes of the unpopular Avon country council, which was abolished twenty years ago.

Here's George Osbourne with the announcement.

Leaders of the West of England councils, the Mayor of Bristol and the Government have negotiated the proposed agreement seeking to devolve significant powers, funding and responsibilities to the region.

A new, directly elected West of England Mayor will act as chair of the West of England Combined Authority and will exercise the following powers and functions devolved from central government:

  • Responsibility for a local transport budget
  • The ability to franchise bus services
  • Responsibility for a new Key Route Network of local authority roads that will be managed and maintained by the Combined Authority on behalf of the Mayor.
  • Powers over strategic planning, including to adopt a statutory spatial development strategy which will act as the framework for managing planning across the West of England region.
of annual funding allocated over 30 years to the West of England Combined Authority

Councillor Tim Warren, Chairman of the West of England Strategic Leaders Board and Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council welcomes the investment in the region.

I’m pleased that the Chancellor has recognised that there is a case in the West of England for a devolution deal to build on the area’s very successful local economy.

The deal would bring over £1bn of investment, which would allow the region to bring forward some important infrastructure projects.

– Cllr Tim Warren, BANES

The first election for the directly elected Mayor will be held in May 2017.