West of England Combined Authority

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West of England Combined Authority
Logo of the West of England Combined Authority.png
West of England Combined Authority map (within South West England).svg
West of England Combined Authority within South West England
Type
Type
HousesUnicameral
Term limits
None
History
Founded9 February 2017
Leadership
Structure
West of England Combined Authority structure.svg
Elections
Indirect election, directly elected mayor from 2017
Last election
4 May 2017
Next election
2021
Meeting place
Bristol Temple Meads approach road (750px).jpg
Engine Shed, Station Approach,
Bristol Temple Meads station
Website
www.westofengland-ca.gov.uk Edit this at Wikidata

The West of England Combined Authority is a combined authority within the West of England area, consisting of the local authorities of Bristol, South Gloucestershire, and Bath and North East Somerset.[1][2] The combined authority is led by the Mayor of the West of England. The first election for this post took place in May 2017,[3] when the Conservative candidate Tim Bowles was chosen on a turnout of 29.7%.

Background[edit]

Devolution of certain powers to the West of England was announced in the 2016 budget.[4] The government's vision was to create a "Western Powerhouse" analogous to the Northern Powerhouse concept. The proposal could bring nearly £1 billion of investment to the region over thirty years.[1][2]

The original proposal was to cover the same area as the County of Avon which came into formal existence on 1 April 1974 and was abolished in 1996.[5] However, in June 2016 North Somerset council rejected the proposal.[6] Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire councils agreed to progress with the proposal.[3][7]

The West of England Combined Authority Order 2017 came into force on 9 February 2017. The first public meeting of the combined authority took place on 1 March 2017 with an interim chair.[8][9]

The region covered by the authority had a population in 2015 estimated at 1,119,000 (which according to the reference also includes North Somerset).[10]

Responsibilities[edit]

The authority's functions, as specified by the West of England Combined Authority Order, mostly cover planning, skills and local transport. In April 2017 the authority published a 207-page constitution which includes terms of reference for the body and its committees.[11]

Planning, economy and skills[edit]

Responsibilities include:

  • Strategic planning, including a Joint Spatial Plan which will act as the framework for managing planning across the West of England region.
  • Control of a new additional £30 million a year funding allocation over 30 years, to be invested in the West of England Single Investment Fund, to boost growth.
  • The 19+ Adult Education budget, which was devolved from the 2019/20 academic year.

Transport[edit]

The mayor and combined authority are[12] responsible for a consolidated, devolved local transport budget, with a multi-year settlement. They will also be able to franchise bus services, subject to necessary legislation and local consultation, which will support the combined authority's delivery of smart and integrated ticketing.

The authority is promoting the West of England Joint Local Transport Plan, which includes the MetroBus network and the MetroWest rail project.

Travelwest is a transport information and advice service promoted by the WECA authorities as well as North Somerset.[13]

A new Key Route Network of local authority roads will be managed and maintained by the combined authority on behalf of the Mayor.

Budget[edit]

In 2018–19 the authority's income was £26.3m, of which £13m was from levies on the local authorities for WECA's transport functions and £7m came in grants. Expenditure was £25.3m, of which £12.8m was spent on concessionary fares and £1.7m on community transport; £2.6m was transferred to reserves and £2.9m was contributed to the Mayoral Fund. From this fund, which also received £17.6m from business rates, the mayor spent £12m on highways and £7m on transport, as well as £0.7m on the Joint Spatial Plan.[14]

Personnel[edit]

The membership of the combined authority cabinet is as follows.[15]

Name Position Assumed office
Mayor Tim Bowles Mayor of the West of England (West of England Combined Authority) 2017
Cllr Dine Romero Leader of Bath and North East Somerset Council 2019
Mayor Marvin Rees Mayor of Bristol (Bristol City Council) 2016
Cllr Toby Savage Leader of South Gloucestershire Council 2018

Former South Gloucestershire Council leader Cllr Matthew Riddle was chosen to be interim chair of the combined authority until the first elected mayor took office on 8 May 2017, and Marvin Rees was chosen to be vice-chair.[16]

As of April 2019 the authority employed 84, including the staff of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership and the 'Invest in Bristol and Bath' team.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "West of England £1bn devolution deal announced in Budget". BBC News. 16 March 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  2. ^ a b Gavin Thompson (16 March 2016). "Metro mayor and £1 billion investment for Greater Bristol announced in Budget 2016". Bristol Post. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  3. ^ a b "The West of England devolution deal". Bristol City Council. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  4. ^ "Budget 2016" (PDF). GOV.UK. HM Treasury. March 2016. Retrieved 2 July 2017.
  5. ^ "The return of Avon: Osborne announces devolution plans". ITV news. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  6. ^ Crawley, James (8 June 2016). "West of England devolution: North Somerset rejects metro mayor plan". Bath Chronicle.
  7. ^ Crawley, James (29 June 2016). "BANES backs £1billion west of England devolution deal and metro mayor but will residents support it?". Bath Chronicale. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  8. ^ "First meeting set for newly established West of England Combined Authority". Bath Echo. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  9. ^ "West of England Combined Authority Order", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 2017/126
  10. ^ "Population dynamics of UK city regions since mid-2011". Office for National Statistics. 12 October 2016.
  11. ^ "Constitution" (PDF). West of England Combined Authority. April 2017. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  12. ^ "West of England Devolution Agreement" (PDF). Retrieved 13 April 2016.
  13. ^ Travelwest https://travelwest.info/pages/us
  14. ^ a b "Statement of Accounts" (PDF). West of England Combined Authority. 31 March 2019. pp. 1, 6–8. Retrieved 25 December 2019.
  15. ^ "'Metro mayor' to run new West of England authority". ITV News. Retrieved 11 December 2016.
  16. ^ "First WECA Committee Meeting". West of England Combined Authority. 1 March 2017. Retrieved 1 March 2017.

External links[edit]