Heart of the South West Devolution - Newsletter 20

Leaders for the Heart of the South West

October 2019

The Heart of the South West Joint Committee met on 27 September 2019. Since the last meeting, the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has received good feedback regarding the Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) and is working closely with Government officials to get this formally signed off.

We are determined to continue to be the ‘voice’ of the HotSW and have a clear focus on developing strategy, maintaining dialogue with Government and ensuring we get the best outcomes. The main items of business dealt with and summarised in this newsletter are:

  • HotSW Housing Task Force
  • Letter to Michael Gove MP – Impact on farming, food and drink sector
  • HotSW Governance Update

Housing - image by Tom Thain on Unsplash

HotSW Housing Task Force

The Joint Committee’s newly constituted Housing Task Force has met and elected a Chair - Councillor Tudor Evans, Leader of Plymouth City Council.

The Task Force will focus on key issues such as ensuring the region is able to secure the right levels of funding to drive housing delivery; the restructuring of Homes England and how this is likely to impact on local authorities; what constitutes affordable housing; the Right to Buy scheme; the delivery of social housing; and the availability of construction skills.

Having written to the previous Housing Minister earlier in the year without response, the Housing Task Force recommended that the Joint Committee should write to the current Minister for Housing to secure their engagement and request a meeting regarding these issues.

Letter to Michael Gove MP – Impacts on the farming, food and drinks sector

The Committee’s Brexit Opportunities and Resilience Group (BROG) has identified serious concerns about the impact of a No Deal Brexit on the region’s farming, food and drink sector if the mitigations, requested by the sector were not put in place.

The Committee supported these concerns and agreed to write to the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP to seek cross-departmental action to address these issues and request a meeting with him for sector representatives to receive those reassurances directly.

HotSW Governance Update

The Committee agreed several recommendations to maintain its strong governance arrangements. This includes re-appointing Somerset County Council as its Administering Authority and increasing partner authority financial contributions to its 2020/21 budget.

These recommendations will now be taken to all constituent authorities and, if agreed, will put the Committee in a more sustainable position.

The Committee also agreed to co-opt a single, joint representative of the Devon & Somerset Associations of Local Councils as a non-voting member, and agreed its meeting dates for 2020.

Next meeting

At its next meeting on 29 November, the Committee will look at the progress made in delivering the Productivity Strategy since the Delivery Plan was signed off in March 2019, and will be considering an investment framework that will sit alongside the Delivery Plan.