13 December 2016
Proposals by Exeter City Council to restructure decision-making in Devon are being challenged by Exeter Green Party. In a letter to Council Leader, Pete Edwards, Exeter Green Party raises its concerns about the ways Exeter City Council is developing initiatives to restructure the authority – all of which will give binding powers to new layers of local government.
In a surprise move proposals emerged[i] at the end of last week for a new super South Devon Unitary Council, involving Exeter, Plymouth, East Devon, Teignbridge, Torbay and possibly South Hams councils. Exeter City Council had previously committed itself to the Heart of the South West “devolution” proposals for a combined authority[ii]. It is now understood Exeter City Council withdrew from this plan at a meeting on 9 December 2016.
The Council’s Executive has also agreed in principle to set up a ‘Greater Exeter Growth and Development Board’ with East, Mid and Teignbridge Councils,[iii] and give this new body powers to make binding decisions on each Council.
The Green Party is concerned that the proposals to reorganise local government are being made without any public consultation or mandate to give power to unelected bodies.
Green Party spokesperson, Diana Moore, said:
“These decisions about major changes to the structure and functions of local government are taking place behind closed doors. We want to know what mandate the City Council has for these proposals and when they intend to consult residents and businesses on whether they actually want new local government arrangements. They need to be transparent about their intentions and the power they intend to give away.
“The proposed arrangements would take away key decisions from the elected representatives of the people of Exeter and hand them to distant unelected bodies. The economic growth priorities of any of these bodies doesn’t address social and environmental considerations or the rising inequality in the city.
“Councils must focus on their duty to co-operate – and do that to the benefit of local people and not obsess about new structures which will only serve vested interests. Any new proposals for local government must be fully consulted on and that whatever structure emerges must be transparent and accountable to local people.”
Notes to editors
[i] Devon County Council meeting at http://devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/244711/start_time/2040000 John Hart at 35mins 40secs.
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