On the day Gloucestershire submits a detailed bid for more devolved powers and responsibilities, which means greater local control and influence over resources and priorities. The Liberal Democrats issue their own ‘Statement of Principles’, on which support for a devolution package will only then be determined.
The Liberal Democrat agreed principles are as follows:
1) Liberal Democrats believe that devolution needs to be created by locally led processes and are mindful that devolution as it currently stands to a model set out by Government is not real devolution at all.
2) Liberal Democrats will only support devolution if Government is genuinely interested in giving power back to local communities, but not if the intention of Government is simply to pass cost-cutting measures onto local authorities under the façade of devolution.
3) The new responsibilities handed down from Government to Gloucestershire must come with full powers to decide, manage and innovate at a local level.
4) The Government must ensure that adequate funding is guaranteed now and in the future to support good quality services for residents of the county.
5) The government must ensure that the new arrangements allow for additional funds to be raised locally or through other legitimate means to support enhanced service provision if that is decided by locally elected members.
6) The governance arrangements must be cross-party and fully reflect the political proportionality that exists on the councils that make up the new governing board that will oversee the new devolved services.
7) We will not support the establishment of a metro mayor. Governance of the new additional arrangements must not be handed over to a single person as we believe collective responsibility across all political parties, provides for better services.
8) If we want democracy alongside devolution, then, we ultimately need a fairer voting system for local government in the form of STV.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (LD: Kingsholm and Wotton) said:
“We are very much in favour of devolving more powers and responsibilities to local areas, but the deal must be right and it must be in the interests of Gloucestershire as a whole.
“Our ‘Statement of Principles’ are more than just a wish list they are key to us supporting the ‘We are Gloucestershire’ bid, which I believe is being signed and submitted today.
“There are a number of factors to be considered and the last thing we should be doing is to look at devolution through rose-tinted spectacles. While devolution presents a number of exciting opportunities, it will not be easy to commit to achieving better outcomes at further reduced costs and this ought to be fully realised.
“Gloucestershire County Council is in no overall control and it is therefore vital that not only public sector partners are consulted, but that all political parties who are a part of the public sector have a say in what is being proposed and what will eventually be agreed.
“In any deal, the question is: who holds the cards? It is important that through the negotiation process of devolution we don’t allow Government to hold all the cards.
“I believe our ‘Statement of Principles’ goes some way to making sure that when we are in a position to agree a deal it will ultimately be the right one for Gloucestershire.”
1. Ten of Gloucestershire’s public sector partners have already come together including Gloucestershire Councils, the Police & Crime Commissioner, GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership and Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group to have one conversation with Government about how, through devolution, one can achieve better outcomes and reduced costs.