Gloucestershire has submitted its bid to government to take greater control of its public services.
The statement of intent document, We are Gloucestershire, was sent to Ministers on Monday 27 July, setting out what the county is asking for as part of the bill of devolution.
Devolution would allow Gloucestershire to have responsibility for public services based on what people need and want.
Partners across the county would have more say over social care and health spending, local transport networks, business rates, education and infrastructure.
Developed by countywide partners – Gloucestershire County Council, the six district councils, GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), it highlights the local challenges we face and puts forward solutions.
It also makes it clear to Ministers that because Gloucestershire’s boundary is shared by all partners involved, unlike many other areas asking for devolution, we’re perfectly situated and already making good progress in joint working.
The statement of intent pulls out five areas that the partners would like to focus on and take more responsibility for:
- Economy, skills and employment – devolved accountability and budgets to enable countywide economic planning to be driven by GFirst LEP
- Planning, transport and infrastructure – simplified decision making for strategic planning, accelerated delivery of housing and investments into better transport links
- Health and social care – fully delegated authority for all health care budgets, fully integrated health and social care and a single vision for health and wellbeing for the county
- Community safety – community-based budgets to focus support where needed, joined up interventions on domestic violence, sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation, more investment in prevention and diversion from crime
- Collective decision making and accountability – pooling together public sector funding to get the best from spending power and a single point of accountability
Cllr Steve Jordan, leader of Cheltenham Borough Council, said: “Devolution will build on existing partnership work to allow more local input in designing and integrating services and so giving the best value for money spent. It’s not just case of devolving power from Westminster as we must ensure that all decisions are taken at the appropriate level.”
Cllr Nick Parsons, deputy leader of Cotswold District Council, said: “This bid has our full support because it would bring more decision-making and control across many important issues closer to the local level. We have already enjoyed considerable success through joint working partnerships with other councils and related organisations, and this reinforces our view that devolving a range of central government responsibilities to Gloucestershire authorities would be an excellent means of obtaining better value for money while promoting greater efficiency.”
Cllr Geoff Wheeler, leader of Stroud District Council, said: “There is a clear case for bringing together strategic decisions in the county by all public bodies so that we can link economic progress with health and social reform.”
Cllr Patrick Molyneux, leader of Forest of Dean District Council, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for us all. We have an excellent track record of working together and devolving more powers locally would enable us to make a real difference here in Gloucestershire.”
Cllr Paul James, leader of Gloucester City Council, said: “We’re already working closely with our partners across Gloucestershire and this bid just takes us further along that journey.
“I want to get the best for our city and what were asking for ensures that we can deliver local services for local people and make our money go further at the same time.”
Cllr Robert Vines, leader of Tewkesbury Borough Council said “We are strongly committed to working in partnership and wholeheartedly support this submission so to ensure we continue to deliver the best services possible for the residents and businesses of our borough”
Cllr Mark Hawthorne, leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said: “Gloucestershire is ready for devolution and our submission to the government makes that very clear. Working together we can get a better deal for local people by making services really work for communities and by driving our economy forward.
“We will be making our case to Ministers in the strongest way possible because this is the right thing to do for Gloucestershire.”
Dr Diane Savory OBE DL, Chair of GFirst LEP, said: “I wholeheartedly support devolution of central Government powers to Gloucestershire. To fully achieve the ambitions of the GFirst LEP Strategic Economic Plan, it’s imperative that Gloucestershire has devolved accountability and budgets for the key levers of the local economy to enable county-wide economic growth and planning to be driven by GFirst LEP. We already have an excellent reputation with central Government, which will help to simplify decision making, and make sure planned growth happens when and where it should. Gloucestershire should be at the forefront of showing how successful devolution can be.”
Dr Helen Miller, Clinical Chair of NHS Gloucestershire CCG, said: “Purchasing and delivering high quality health and care in a county which has an ageing and a growing population is a real challenge. We are continually striving to improve the quality and safety of services available to the people of Gloucestershire, making care and support as accessible as possible while developing self-care and prevention with local communities. Improving health and wellbeing is reliant on a range of environmental, community and social factors. By building on the already close working relationships with our partners, devolution will enable us to combine our efforts and expertise and plan more effectively to meet the needs of our population.”