Devolution drive hits the buffers

12 Jan 18

Progress on devolution in England stalled in the past year, the government has admitted.

Despite the flurry of publicity when six newly-created metro mayors were elected to lead devolved authorities last May, the government’s annual report on devolution shows no further deals were agreed and only one application was made.

It said: “Between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2017, the government reached no devolution agreements with new areas.”

The only application was from North of Tyne – comprising Northumberland, Newcastle and North Tyneside.

That, though, is a surviving part of the aborted North East devolution deal, which would have also included Durham, Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland but fell apart amid mutual recriminations.

Mark Hawthorne, chair of the Local Government Association’s people and places board, said: “Councils have previously warned of the dangers of ‘devolution deadlock’ with progress stalled on new devolution deals. 

“It is disappointing that this report, which has taken the government 10 months to publish, confirms that there were no new devolution deals in 2016-17.”

He added: “The longer it takes to secure new devolution deals, the longer communities will have to wait to benefit from the opportunities currently available to areas where devolution has taken place. There is now a real risk that areas without devolution deals will be left behind.”

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