View of Brixham Harbour on a sunny day, boats in the water and colourful houses on the far side.

The Government’s policy of devolving powers and funding to local government offers an opportunity for councils to work together to tackle long-standing social and economic inequalities in their area. 

In early 2022, Devon, Plymouth and Torbay were selected as one of nine pilot areas in England by Government in the Levelling Up White Paper for “County Deal” negotiations. Plymouth City Council decided in November 2023 to withdraw from the deal. 

Councils across Devon and Torbay have expressed a united desire to deliver lasting improvements on things that matter to local people. The proposed devolution deal will bring new powers and additional funding from the Government to tackle priorities such as housing, public transport, jobs, training and skills. 

What type of devolution deal?

The government offers three levels of Devolution Deals:

  • Level 1 – offers devolution to local authorities with joint working arrangements, with fewer powers and less devolved funding on offer.
  • Level 2 – offers devolution to a single local government institution without a directly elected Mayor. That single institution could be a combined authority or an upper tier local authority. The area covered by the institution needs to be a functional economic area.
  • Level 3 – offers the most comprehensive package of powers and funding. The Government requires the strongest and most accountable leadership with a directly elected mayor. This could be a mayoral combined authority, or a single unitary authority, or a county council, all with a directly elected mayor. Again they need to cover a functional economic area.
View south over the rail tracks as they pass through Marsh Barton rail station. Green fields to left, and side aspect of an industrial building, which is the Exeter energy from waste plant.

Our negotiations with the Government have been for a Level 2 Deal as we do not believe that an elected mayor would be right for the area. Instead of an elected mayor for our area, government would devolve powers and funding to a new body called a Combined County Authority (CCA).

The Devon and Torbay CCA would be a partnership of existing councils. It would work with local stakeholders and communities to tackle priorities that impact the whole area.

Devolution would move existing funding and powers from London, directly to us in Devon and Torbay. This would mean that local voices would play a greater role in decision making.

Importantly, a devolution deal will not create a ‘Super Council’. There won’t be a re-organisation of existing councils and there won’t be an elected mayor. The councils across Devon and Torbay would continue to be responsible for delivering local services to their communities.  The exception to this would be that the CCA would be the Local Transport Authority although Devon County Council and Torbay Council would remain responsible for highway matters in their area.  

How would the CCA work?

The CCA would include members of Devon County Council and Torbay Council. It would also include representatives of the district councils and other stakeholders. 

The members of the CCA would work together on a formal and legal basis to improve the area for our communities and businesses. They would act as the recipient of powers and funding from the Government. 

Members of the CCA would have the ability to influence devolved activity and have a say on what the CCA does. The CCA would operate inclusively in pursuit of its agreed outcomes. 

Who are we working with?

Devon County Council and Torbay Council are working in partnership to develop the Devolution Deal with government. We are working with the district, borough and city councils across Devon through Team Devon. We are also working with education and skills providers, businesses, the voluntary sector and a wide range of organisations.

Local authorities and councils involved:

  • Dartmoor National Park
  • Devon Association of Local Councils (DALC – representing parish and town councils)
  • Devon County Council
  • East Devon District Council
  • Exeter City Council
  • Mid Devon District Council
  • North Devon Council
  • South Hams District Council
  • Teignbridge District Council
  • Torbay Council
  • Torridge District Council
  • West Devon Borough Council