West of England Combined Authority

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West of England Combined Authority
West of England Combined Authority logo.png
West of England Combined Authority map (within South West England).svg
West of England Combined Authority within South West England
Term limits
Founded9 February 2017
Interim chair
Matthew Riddle, Conservative
West of England Combined Authority structure.svg
Indirect election, directly elected mayor from 2017
Last election
4 May 2017
Next election
Meeting place
Bristol Temple Meads approach road (750px).jpg
Engine Shed, Station Approach,
Bristol Temple Meads station

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%.


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]


The responsibilities of the mayor and combined authority are:[11]

  • Responsibility for a consolidated, devolved local transport budget, with a multi-year settlement.
  • The ability to franchise bus services, subject to necessary legislation and local consultation, which will support the Combined Authority's delivery of smart and integrated ticketing.
  • Responsibility for a new Key Route Network of local authority roads that will be managed and maintained by the Combined Authority on behalf of the Mayor.
  • Powers over strategic planning, including to adopt a statutory spatial development strategy 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.
  • Responsibility for the 19+ Adult Education budget, which will be devolved from academic year 2018/19.


The membership of the combined authority cabinet is as follows.[12]

Name Position Assumed office
Tim Bowles Mayor of the West of England (West of England Combined Authority) 2017
Cllr Tim Warren Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council
Mayor Marvin Rees Mayor of Bristol (Bristol City Council) 2016
Cllr Matthew Riddle[note] Leader of South Gloucestershire Council

^ 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.[13]

Local government[edit]

The combined authority consists of the following unitary authorities:

Unitary Authority Population Area (sq mi) Population Density (per km²)
Bath & North East Somerset 182,021 135.57 518
Bristol 449,300 40 3,892
South Gloucestershire 271,556 191.87 550


  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. ^ UK Parliament. West of England Combined Authority Order as made, from legislation.gov.uk.
  10. ^ "Population dynamics of UK city regions since mid-2011". Office for National Statistics. 12 October 2016.
  11. ^ "West of England Devolution Agreement" (PDF). Retrieved 13 April 2016.
  12. ^ "'Metro mayor' to run new West of England authority". ITV News. Retrieved 11 December 2016.
  13. ^ "First WECA Committee Meeting". West of England Combined Authority. 1 March 2017. Retrieved 1 March 2017.

External links[edit]