The councils of Bath-North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire voted in favour of decentralisation. For more information on decentralisation, download our guide “A guide to decentralisation, the mayor of the Metro and the West of England” on www.businesswest.co.uk/resources. North Somerset Council had already decided not to pursue the decentralisation agreement. Its members voted on 8 June 2016 in favour of leaving the agreement, citing fears of being part of an additional level of local authorities. In the autumn 2017 budget, the government announced that it would begin discussions with the Liverpool City area to explore the possibility of further decentralisation of the area. Our ability to speak with the central government as a combined authority, with one voice, is one of the main advantages of decentralization. As a region, we have shown together that we have clear and ambitious plans, and the government has realized that by investing in our future. Last year, three councils in the West of England – Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Bath – North East Somerset – agreed on a decentralisation agreement with the central government. The initial agreement, announced in the March 2016 budget, also included North Somerset, but the Council withdrew from the agreement in June 2016. In May, the residents of Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Bath-North East Somerset will elect a new mayor for the West of England as part of a decentralisation agreement between the three councils and the central government. This will be a step in the functioning of the West of England and has the potential to help solve some of the region`s most pressing problems, such as road congestion, housing availability and inequality. The continuation of the decentralization of the GMCA was announced as part of the expenditure review.
Details include the government`s obligation to examine how regulatory reform can support local housing policy and public service reform efforts, the power to introduce a Community infrastructure tax and the development of a business case for a rural programme. It is also noted that the Infrastructure Committee will provide advice on investment priorities for the North, transparency obligations related to the financing of franchise bus services and the agreement to consider proposals for a common investment platform to improve the highway network in the region. Subject to the legislation, the mayor will have the power to introduce a surcharge for business rates and GMCA will reach an agreement with the British Business Bank that will specify how it will work together to help SMEs. The agreement also contains reflections on the creation of an investment fund for public service reform and how the government will support the GMCA in the development and implementation of an integrated approach to preventive services for children and youth. The GMCA will conduct an analysis of all skills after 19 years. The agreement commits to discuss other areas of cooperation and provides that GMCA will be granted intermediate body status.