Dorset could team-up with neighbours to tackle climate change and more

INVESTMENTS, adult education and tackling climate change could all become shared responsibilities between Dorset and BCP Councils.

Dorset Council members are set to consider a report that seeks wider approval for the development of a Devolution Deal, including closer working with other councils.

Devolution is the transfer of powers and funding from national to local government, which advocates say provides greater freedoms and flexibilities at a local level.

In July 2023, Dorset Council’s Cabinet agreed to discuss a potential Devolution Deal with other local authorities.

Currently, the authority does not have a sufficient population to seek a deal on its own, with the threshold being a minimum population of 500,000.

At this stage, the council said discussions have been informal in nature.

Therefore, the leader is seeking the support of the council to progress the work.

Devolution Deals in England which have been created thus far typically have the following components:
• A long-term investment fund.
• Devolution of the adult education budget.
• Energy, environment, and climate related areas.
• An enhanced role in designing local employment programmes.
• Increased powers over transport and bus franchising.
• A greater role in business support and economic development, taking over the functions of Local Enterprise Partnerships.
• Housing and planning functions, including compulsory purchase powers, the ability to establish development corporations, and the power to create a spatial strategy.

Councillor Simon Gibson, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for economic growth and levelling up, said: “Seeking a Devolution Deal is one of the ten Cabinet Commitments, and the publishing of this report is the latest step for moving this ambition forward.

“We should seek a deal for Dorset to bring much needed additional funding and powers to improve economic prosperity, social wellbeing, and environmental sustainability into the Dorset Council area.

“But we can’t do this alone, so we are seeking the broader support of elected members to progress this work and continue exploring the possibilities with other councils.

“Dorset, and south west England in general, is unique – with its own challenges and opportunities for growth which cannot wholly be addressed by national policy.

“Devolution will place the future of many of the services we deliver firmly in our control so that we can do what is right for our communities and get the best outcomes for our residents.”

The report will be considered by Full Council on Thursday (October 12), with the meeting getting underway at 6.30pm.

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