Home What’s On News General News Totnes Town Council expresses concern regarding the proposed Devon and Torbay Devolution Deal

Totnes Town Council expresses concern regarding the proposed Devon and Torbay Devolution Deal

Totnes Town Council has made the following statement, expressing concerns regarding the proposed Devon and Torbay Devolution Deal, in its current form.

As the governing body directly elected to represent the interests of Totnes residents, we have significant reservations about an additional layer of governance at a regional level, particularly one with very limited representation of the Town and Parish sector.

It is our position that such a governance model would create an unacceptable democratic deficit. We need more of a voice on policies with profound local impacts, not less. Each town and parish area across Devon has its own unique characteristics that require tailored approaches, staying locally accountable.

Moreover, we question whether the suggested economic benefits of this deal are realistic or will substantively improve circumstances for Totnes. The positive outcomes appear speculative at best, with the allocated £16m being insufficient to undertake implementation County wide. Town and parish councils are already taking on additional responsibilities and services due to cuts at higher tier authorities. We do not believe that this proposal goes far enough in filtering powers and funding down to local communities.

In summary:

  • Adding a fourth layer of government administration will over complicate and increase confusion for constituents about who is responsible for what.
  • Transfer of key responsibilities away from lower tiers of local government risks distancing policies from communities they impact.
  • One-size-fits-all policies may not effectively meet the unique needs of different areas.
  • Financial projections and claimed economic benefits appear overstated and speculative, particularly with a backdrop of insufficient funding (and large budget deficits as a result) to all tiers of local government.
  • £16m is insufficient and future funding levels are uncertain. This money should be redirected towards statutory services that are already in dire need.
  • The extra resources and ongoing costs required for administering this layer after 2027 will draw money away from essential services.
  • We are supportive of devolving powers and funding from central to local government, but true devolution should empower more local decision-making, not consolidate powers into a County wide organisation in an area that has such diverse needs and challenges.
  • Lack of clarity on meaningful impact or enhanced future opportunities for town/parish councils during a time when they are already taking on additional responsibilities due to funding challenges in higher tier authorities.
  • Serious concerns over the democratic deficit created and the lack of sufficient representation of towns and parishes in the governance arrangements.

As Totnes’s elected representatives, it is our duty to advocate for our constituents’ interests and self-governance at an appropriate level. A combined authority is at odds with the spirit of true devolution to localized decision-making and compromises a core philosophy of empowering – not disempowering – local communities’ abilities to shape their futures.

Totnes Town Council agrees with the following statement from the London Mayor, taken from www.london.gov.uk:

‘The principal lesson to be learnt by the Government from the NO vote in the Northeast region, is that people will only accept changes to the way in which they are governed where those changes represent a clear improvement in the nature of that government, and also result in them being more directly involved in the decisions which will effect their lives. This will require an appropriately wide range of powers being devolved to the new bodies, which they are being invited to elect.

We will be urging our residents and partners to make their individual thoughts known before 24 March via the online consultation at www.devontorbaydeal.org.uk.

Catherine Marlton, Totnes Town Council Clerk

Wed 13th March 2024
Last Updated
Wed 13th March 2024
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