A SIX-week public consultation was launched on Monday, February 12 on the draft proposal to create a Combined County Authority (CCA) for Devon and Torbay to oversee new powers and funding transferred from Government.

The ground-breaking devolution deal, announced by Levelling Up Minister Jacob Young last month, proposes to create the CCA, which would be a formal partnership of elected members drawn from the councils of Devon and Torbay, including district councils, together with representatives from business and education.

People are being invited to have their say on how the CCA would work, the powers that it would have and the functions it would be responsible for.

These include investment in local economic growth, delivering affordable housing, improving public transport, and meeting net zero ambitions.

Further information about Devon County Council and Torbay Council’s joint consultation and details of how to respond are available at: www.devontorbaydeal.org.uk .

Establishing the CCA would not mean removing or merging local councils and does not require a Mayor for Devon and Torbay.

All councils would continue to exist and would still be responsible for public services in their area.

- The new body would have direct control of adult education to create up to 50,000 new training and retraining opportunities by 2030. Through Local Skills Improvement Plans, the proposed CCA will work with business and education leaders to create a stronger, joined-up relationship between employers and schools, colleges and universities to provide the skilled workforce the local economy needs for the future.

- More than £16 million of new funding would be invested in new green jobs, homes, skills, and business growth to accelerate Devon and Torbay’s transition to a net-zero economy, capitalising on the area’s world-leading expertise in green science and technology.

- There would also be a stronger partnership with Homes England, working closely with district councils in Devon to create a joint action plan for affordable housing schemes for local people as well as reducing homelessness. The proposal includes additional land assembly and compulsory purchase powers and would facilitate greater Community Land Trust-led delivery.

- The joined up local transport planning by Devon County Council and Torbay Council will be strengthened to improve the efficiency and co-ordination of public transport. There is also an ambition to introduce a single ticketing system for public transport passengers.

- From 2025 the Government is also offering to transfer responsibility for planning and delivery of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to Devon and Torbay, engaging with Devon’s district councils, to support high growth business sectors as well as funding town centre enhancements.

Devon County Council Leader John Hart said: “This devolution deal is a golden opportunity for us to change what we do and the way we do it. It would enable us to do things our way in order to secure more investment to deliver local priorities, while offering better value for money for taxpayers.

“I would encourage local people to look at the benefits this deal offers everyone who lives and works in our county and we would very much welcome your feedback.”

Councillor David Thomas, Leader of Torbay Council, said: “This Devolution Deal will give us a stronger voice with Government and the opportunity to influence those policies that affect the lives of those that live in Torbay and Devon.

“In this consultation we want to know if the proposals in the deal, which include improving training, skills, housing and public transport, are the right ones. Please take a look, let us know your thoughts, as together we have the opportunity to be part of change for our communities.”

The results of the consultation will be considered by both Councils in April.

Devon County Council and Torbay Council will consider whether they want to submit the proposal to Government, either with or without amendments, or not at all.

The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities would examine any submission and make regulations setting up the CCA.

A summary leaflet about the consultation will be available in all Devon and Torbay libraries as well as district council offices.

You can take part in the consultation, which closes at 11.59pm on March 24, 2024, by providing your feedback via the Devon Torbay Deal website, by emailing [email protected] or by post to: FREEPOST D and T Devolution.