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West of England Devolution

In 2017, the West of England enters into an exciting phase of devolution which will see the region gain greater local control over the way it is governed and resourced. Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset will establish a new West of England Combined Authority (WECA) to be chaired by a directly-elected West of England Mayor, with elections held on 4th May 2017.

Click here to read more about why business wants devolution.

On May 8, Tim Bowles was sworn in to office as the first ever Mayor of the West of England, marking an historic step in an exciting phase of devolution which will see the city region gain greater local control over the way it is governed and resourced. It is part of devolving more power to our major city regions with new ‘metro’ mayors elected in 6 areas including Manchester and the West Midlands.

Tim will chair the newly formed West of England Combined Authority (WECA), made up of the leaders of Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset councils, with some new powers and spending on the city region’s transport, housing, adult education and skills. WECA will receive an additional £900m over 30 years as a single investment fund for infrastructure and public services.

We at Business West, The Initiative believe that the West of England devolution deal is a starting point for the kind of vision we set out in our 2050: High In Hope publication. Given the wide range of opportunities that devolution offers for the region, we want to see this deal taken to its full potential. This is a chance for us to shape the region’s future in the way we think best, the overall aim being to run the West of England more effectively, linking the key things that drive economic growth: business, skills and infrastructure. It’s now up to WECA with the input and support of businesses and universities though the local Enterprise Partnerships to quickly get up and running and enable this area to deliver better infrastructure and a stronger, healthier economy.

The first task of the new West of England ‘Metro’ Mayor must be to ensure the Combined Authority is capable of delivering marked improvements in the region’s infrastructure and skills. We want to see a vision for sustainable growth with clear objectives and timelines, underpinned by strong leadership and a genuinely collaborative approach across authorities and with business and our universities. The business community is uniquely placed to provide support and advice both in setting out the region’s growth plans and delivering on them.

In the run-up to the election of the new mayor, we published a Business Manifesto setting out the level of ambition we need to be aiming for in order to make a success of devolution. We look forward to working with Tim and his team to make the most of the opportunities we now have and to ensure that the West of England becomes an even better place to live and work in the years to come.

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