B&NES Cabinet has today taken the decision to accept the government's proposed Devolution Deal and create a Combined Authority, with a Metro Mayor, covering Bristol, B&NES and South Gloucestershire.
Councillors were given the opportunity to scrutinise this decision at a special meeting of Council, at which Liberal Democrat Councillors raised concerns over governance and consultation issues as well as the current post-EU referendum turmoil in government.
Lib Dem Group Leader, Councillor Dine Romero (Lib Dem, Southdown), commented:
“I do not believe you should sign deals in times of uncertainty. This decision feels rushed through against a backdrop of chaos in national government. We have no idea whether the next ministers will honour this agreement or indeed whether they will insist on a Metro Mayor. Do we really want to accept another layer of bureaucracy, when this could be avoided?”
Councillor Shaun Stephenson-McGall (Lib Dem, Oldfield) added:
“There are many aspects of this deal which are welcome – additional control over and funding for education, transport and growth initiatives. However, I am concerned that B&NES residents may never see these benefits as most resources will be directed to those areas of Bristol and South Gloucestershire where the needs are greatest in terms of economic deprivation and transport problems.”
Councillor Steve Hedges (Lib Dem, Odd Down) said:
“B&NES residents were given a vote on whether or not to have a Mayor for the Council, so why aren’t they getting a vote on whether to have a Metro Mayor?” “We voted against the motion this evening due to all the concerns our Councillors have outlined. However we absolutely support public consultation and we will work hard to encourage as many residents as possible to respond to this consultation and help ensure that the government and the Conservative administration have a clear view of the public’s wishes on the matter.”