In November 2017, the UK government and the leaders of several local authorities in the West of England signed a devolution agreement. This agreement aimed to give more power and resources to the region, enabling it to take greater control of its economic future and address some of the challenges facing the area.
The West of England region encompasses Bristol, Bath, South Gloucestershire, and North Somerset, and is home to over 1.1 million people. The agreement includes a range of measures designed to support economic growth, including new funding and powers for transport, housing, and skills.
One of the key elements of the agreement is the creation of a new West of England Combined Authority, which will take on responsibility for strategic planning and decision-making in the region. The authority will be made up of representatives from the four local authorities, as well as a directly elected mayor.
The devolution deal also includes funding for major infrastructure projects, such as improvements to the region`s transport network, including new rail and road connections. This should help to improve connectivity between different parts of the region and support economic growth by making it easier for businesses to access new markets.
Another important aspect of the agreement is the support it provides for skills and education. The West of England will benefit from additional funding for training and apprenticeships, with the aim of helping local people to gain the skills they need to take advantage of new job opportunities in the region.
Finally, the devolution deal includes measures to support the development of new housing. This will be achieved through a combination of new funding and powers for local authorities to address the housing supply and affordability challenges facing the region.
Overall, the West of England devolution agreement represents a significant step forward for the region, giving local leaders more control over economic decision-making and enabling them to address the challenges facing the area. With new funding and powers to support skills, housing, and transport, the West of England should be well-placed to capitalize on its strengths and attract new investment in the years ahead.