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We have made some changes to cabinet and council meetings and how decisions are made in response to the coronavirus situation. Visit the service changes page for more information.

We have made some changes to cabinet and council meetings and how decisions are made to meet the guidelines set out by the government in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

As part of a move towards the greater devolution of powers and budgets away from Westminster, the Government has invited all local authorities in England to develop their own local proposals.

In response, we have been working closely with councils in Devon, Somerset and Plymouth along with Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks, and the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership on moving towards devolution for the Heart of the South West.

The agreed key local themes are economic growth, health, social care and wellbeing, and infrastructure and local resilience.

More information


What are combined authorities and how do they make decisions affecting your area? This one minute 'explainer' gives you some quick answers.

Frequently asked questions

The Government has offered the chance to have greater power and responsibility for providing services and improving the economy. We are doing this because we believe that decisions about our future should be made as locally as possible. We also believe that there is scope for public sector organisations to work together more efficiently.

In the Heart of the South West every one of our district, unitary and county councils are involved, as well as both National Park Authorities and the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership who are key to our work.

  • Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership
  • Somerset County Council
  • Somerset’s district and borough councils:
    • Mendip
    • Sedgemoor
    • South Somerset
    • Taunton Deane
    • West Somerset
  • Devon County Council
  • Devon’s district and borough councils
    • East Devon
    • Mid Devon
    • North Devon
    • South Hams
    • Teignbridge
    • Torridge
    • West Devon
  • Plymouth City Council
  • Exeter City Council
  • Torbay Council
  • Exmoor National Park
  • Dartmoor National Park

The Government is keen for devolution to happen within ‘Local Enterprise Partnership’ boundaries, and that is what our bid does. We want to make sure we work with our neighbouring local authorities where it makes sense to do that, so that we can benefit even more from devolution. The Government’s offer is to local authorities in the first instance as they have a unique role amongst other public services because they are run by democratically elected councils. Other partners will be involved as part of the detailed negotiations that follow.

Our Statement of Intent sets out that we are looking for additional powers and responsibilities in three areas:

  • Economic growth and productivity
  • Health, social care and wellbeing
  • Infrastructure and local resilience

These are the areas we want to be the focus of our discussions with Government as we look in detail at what could make the biggest difference to us and bring the most benefits for our residents.

We need to have those detailed discussions before we can talk about specific powers that might want to have devolved.

Equally, if we can do something without having any devolved powers, we will just get on and do it and it won’t form part of our negotiations with Government.

The only cost envisaged is the cost of officer time which is being shared between the various organisation involved in the bid.

One of the objectives of our bid is to make the public sector more efficient and save money. Ideally, with less bureaucracy and layers of decision-making, devolution will reduce costs. The Government expects devolution deals to be ‘fiscally neutral’ - it does not want to spend any more money than it already spends. But our communities should benefit from economies of scale, delivering better outcomes.