The government has today (16 March 2016) announced the creation of a new “West of England Mayoral Authority”, which will create a new directly elected Mayor for the former Avon area.
Speaking on the devolution agenda, as part of today’s Government Budget Statement, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osbourne said:
“We’ve reached agreement to establish new elected mayors in our English Counties and Southern cities too… we’ve also agreed a new West of England Mayoral Authority and they too will see almost a billion pounds invested locally.”
Councillor Dine Romero (Southdown, Lib Dem), Leader of the B&NES Liberal Democrat Council Group, commented:
“As Liberal Democrats, we support the principle of decisions being taken as closely as possible to the people they affect. We would welcome a genuine, long-term, devolution deal which would bring substantive new powers and funding to the area. However, the government’s insistence on imposing an unwanted and unnecessary directly elected Mayor makes a mockery of its devolution rhetoric.”
“The West of England is the most productive city region outside of London with a long and extremely successful track record of partnership working between the four unitary authorities. A Mayoral system would be no more effective and no more accountable; it would only add another layer of cost and politics.”
“Local people have already rejected a directly elected Mayor for B&NES. Unfortunately, they will not be given the opportunity to vote on this new sub-regional Mayor. This deal has been negotiated behind closed doors by the Conservative Government, Conservative Council Leaders and George Ferguson. Local people have no say in the matter. This could spell the beginning of the end of B&NES Council and a return to Avon.”