‘United front’ to secure more power for Devon

County Hall in Exeter.

County Hall in Exeter. - Credit: Archant

District leaders could form part of a ‘unified front’ alongside other South West authorities in a move that would see the region gain more independence from Westminster.

It follows a summit of 17 county, unitary and district councils – including East Devon District Council (EDDC) - in Exeter.

The high-level meeting was organised by Devon County Council leader John Hart, Plymouth City Council leader Tudor Evans and Exeter City Council deputy leader Rachel Sutton. They agreed a ‘united front’ and to work with Somerset to boost the economy and jobs.

Cornwall has already agreed a devolution deal with the Government and Bristol councils are working on a bid.

Councillor Hart said: “It’s important that we present a united front to the Government and the level of agreement has been very encouraging.

“I have always said that we can do things more effectively and more efficiently locally than being told what to do by London.”

He added: “The big themes we hope to focus on are skills, economic growth and improving productivity as well as infrastructure so we can ensure our road and rail network is more resilient than it has been in the past.

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“Doing the very best for our older residents by co-ordinating health and social care and affordable homes for our young people are also key themes.

“Chancellor George Osborne recognised the very real problems there are in the South West with housing for our young people when he was in Devon on Thursday.”

Mark Williams, EDDC chief executive, said: “We are engaged in the meetings and supportive of the move for further discussions with the Government regarding the devolution agenda.”