Deadline for devo bids

Councils around the country will today submit their bids to Government for devolved powers. Liverpool, Cheshire & Warrington and Greater Manchester are all expected to make formal submissions.

The Liverpool City Region submission to the 2015 Comprehensive Spending Review outlines the powers, control and resources which the Combined Authority believes should be managed locally rather than by central Government.

A spokesman for Liverpool Combined Authority said the Government’s forthcoming Spending Review is expected to result in more reductions in funding for the City Region, so the devolution submission highlights areas where local decision-making would help to deal with those reductions.

A statement released jointly by the six councils in the city region said: “Any devolution deal will aim to accelerate economic growth, improve public services and improve social outcomes and create better health and wellbeing for local residents. In addition, the deal would also build on the strong collaborative work that has already been established through the City Region’s existing and successful Growth Deal.”

Requests for devolved powers include:

  • Settlement covering more than one year to help plan and provide sustainable services for local residents and businesses
  • Creation of a land commission to oversee how public sector estate is used
  • Maintaining Government investment in International Festival for Business for further two events in 2018 and 2020

Other points ask for “local control over Mersey Tunnel tolls, reshaping and restructuring skills and advisory systems to respond to local needs, retaining business rates income, designating the Liverpool Wirral Port system a Free Trade Zone which would promote international trade opportunities, and managing local bus services with the ability to set routes and fares.”

No official details were released of Greater Manchester’s submission. Locally it was reported the wishlist is worth £7bn and follows on the significant breakthroughs the GMCA has made in the past year with control handed down in health and social care and retention of new business rates and a greater say in planning, transport, housing budgets and decisions.

A spokesman for Manchester City Council said discussions with government were ongoing.

In Cheshire & Warrington, the three unitary authorities are working together to submit their bid. Cheshire East Council leader Cllr Michael Jones said this week that he fully endorses greater control over resources for the people of Cheshire.

Jones added:  “This is about wholesale public sector reform to better meet the needs of the local residents.

“We in Cheshire East are continuing to secure economic growth and prosperity for the health and wellbeing of all our residents.”

A report discussed by Cheshire West & Chester Council excecutive member this week highlighted some of the emerging themes likely to be included in the bid These include geographic focus on Mersey Dee Economic Axis, Crewe High Growth City, Warrington New City, and the cross-cutting themes of ‘new homes, best business location, connectivity, getting people into work and distinctiveness of location.’

Councils in Lancashire are not expected to make a formal submission in this round, which is aimed mainly at city regions, but are understood to be preparing a submission for the end of this year. There is currently no combined authority in Lancashire or Cheshire.

The bids submitted to Government on 4 September are put forward for ministerial consideration. Detailed negotiations will then follow until mid-November when the details of what is on offer will be shared with the individual local authorities. Formal implementation of any governance arrangements would come into effect from April 2017 at the earliest.

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