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Plymouth withdraws from proposed devolution deal

Plymouth has withdrawn from the Government’s proposed devolution deal for Devon which council leader Tudor Evans has described as “unreasonable and unrealistic”. 

The deal, which would have seen Plymouth having less power and control over transport in the city, with no commitment to increased resources, would have been “a backward step” for the city said Councillor Evans. 

For more than two years, Plymouth has been working closely with partners in authorities across Devon over a deal that promised to see more money and powers transferred to a Devon, Plymouth and Torbay combined authority. 

Councillor Evans said: “We embarked on the road to a devolution deal for Devon as we support the principle of devolving more powers and control over resources from London to our region.   

“But the final deal on the table would have been a step backwards given that 25 years ago Plymouth became a unitary authority and took back responsibility for key areas such as education and transport. 

“The aim of a devolution deal was to hand control from Whitehall to a Devon combined authority, not take away existing powers from Plymouth. To have agreed to give up powers on the promise of a little more cash would have been a backwards step for local democracy. 

“Despite meetings with the Government Minister and numerous letters, they are insisting that we surrender our powers and funding regarding Transport. Therefore, we have no choice but to withdraw. It is massively disappointing given all the work that has taken place and we hope the Government will realise the final deal it offered was unreasonable and unrealistic and that it will reconsider in the future. 

“In the meantime, we wish our Devon and Torbay colleagues well in progressing a deal that is right for them.” 

Councillor Evans said Plymouth remained committed to working with its partners across the region.  

“Despite the proposed devolution deal not being the right vehicle for us right now, we remain fully committed to continuing to work closely with our partners across the region on areas such as transport, housing inward investment, jobs, the Freeport and skills and education.”