Three Devon councils have announced that they will be working more collaboratively to drive forward economic growth.
Exeter City Council, Teignbridge District Council and East Devon District Council have signed an agreement that paves the way for joined-up decision making on planning, housing, resources and infrastructure.
The three councils have previously worked together on economic development and tourism. They recently merged individual ICT services to create Strata Service Solutions Ltd, a shared ICT partnership that will deliver significant savings and deliver better day-to-day services for customers.
The three local authorities – with a combined population of 380,000 – will come together as The Greater Exeter, Greater Devon Partnership but still retain individual identities. Each council will remain politically independent with no desire to change municipal boundaries.
Exeter City Council Leader, Pete Edwards, said: “As neighbours we have a great track record of working together to secure jobs, houses and investment.
“But we recognise that there is a great opportunity to grow the regional city economy, deliver higher-paid jobs and provide an even better quality of life for residents and businesses across Devon. Through this partnership we can build a shared vision and invest jointly in initiatives that span our boundaries and benefit the wider area.”
Teignbridge District Council Leader, Jeremy Christophers, said: “Politically, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the people of Exeter, East Devon and Teignbridge.
“A mature working relationship built on trust between the Leaders allows us to move forward with confidence to deliver positive change for our communities, despite current financial challenges for local government.”
East Devon District Council Leader, Paul Diviani, said: “The way we live, work and spend our leisure time is already dispersed across the geographical boundaries of each authority. It makes perfect economical sense to work more collaboratively as a group.
“This is such an exciting venture which addresses the issues which affect us all and will play a critical role in driving economic growth and social cooperation across our boundaries.
“Our people care that the services they can reasonably expect to see delivered are done so in a sustainable, equitable and efficient manner. Working together we will achieve so much more than we ever could in isolation.”
The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership has backed the announcement. Steve Hindley, chairman of the LEP, said: “I fully support this closer collaboration and am convinced that it will be of enormous benefit to everyone concerned.”
The Greater Exeter Visioning Board will meet every month to define work priorities of the Group.
The Board will consist of the Leaders and Chief Executives of each district council plus the portfolio holders responsible for development:
Exeter – Cllr Pete Edwards, Karime Hassan and Cllr Rachel Sutton
Teignbridge – Cllr Jeremy Christophers, Nicola Bulbeck and Cllr Stuart Barker
East Devon – Cllr Paul Diviani, Mark Williams and Cllr Andrew Moulding.
(from a press release)