A DEVOLUTION deal for the whole of Devon is progressing and could be offered to the county by the autumn.

Outline approval was given in March to transfer new money and powers to local leaders – part of “levelling-up” proposals by the government.

The “level two” deal does not require an elected mayor, nor change the established council structure. Instead, a combined board would be created with the leaders of Devon County, Torbay and Plymouth councils, as well as district representatives.

The South West Local Enterprise Partnership’s scrutiny committee was told on Thursday, June 8, that work is now underway on the formalities, with six areas of greater powers being focussed on.

These include more say on housing, devolution of adult education funding and more control of public transport commissioning.

Phill Adams from Devon County Council, who updated the committee, said the government is also open to exploring other areas for devolution, including innovation, tourism and culture.

The planned combined authority will be “standalone from existing councils”, according to Mr Adams.

“It would be led by the three upper-tier councils in conjunction with the districts in Devon … a business voice and some partners – most likely education.”

The combined board would be chaired by one of the three upper tier leaders – Councillors John Hart (Conservative), David Thomas (Conservative) or Tudor Evans (Labour).

“It doesn’t replace anything,” Mr Adams stressed. “It’s not taking over. It’s not a super council or anything like that. This is purely around local government having a body to work through some of these functions that come down from government together.

“It’s very different from a mayoral approach. This is very much around developing what we’ve got.”

Once the deal has been offered by the government, it will then be subject to approval by local councils and a formal consultation process.