A deal that would see significant decision-making powers and funding move to Devon and Torbay from Whitehall has received mixed responses from Devon residents in a recent public consultation.

The devolution plans would see the creation of a Devon and Torbay Combined County Authority (CCA), which would make decisions on areas such as jobs and skills, housing and the environment.

When asked ‘to what extent do you agree or disagree with the proposal to maximise our economic potential through the Devon and Torbay CCA?’ 44% of those responding to the public consultation said they disagreed, while 43% said they agreed.

The public consultation garnered nearly 900 responses from individuals and a range of organisations including district councils, town and parish councils and representatives from the business, education and skills, housing, transport, health service providers and the voluntary sectors.

In addition to online consultation, 31 roundtable meetings were held across Devon and Torbay, attended by more than 700 people.

Despite the mixed views, Devon County Council is likely to recommend the draft proposal when its cabinet meets on Monday (22nd April). Torbay Council will also meet before the end of the month to decide whether to submit a final proposal for the Devon and Torbay CCA to the Secretary of State.

Last month Teignbridge councillors labelled the move to a CCA as ‘a nasty and dangerous move’ amid fears that district councils might lose out as the Devon and Torbay unitary authority takes control.

Following the public consultation, Devon County Council concedes that ‘for devolution to work well for the one million or so residents across Devon and Torbay, the task in hand will require all levels of local government across the two areas – County and Unitary, City, District and Borough, and Town and Parish councils – to work much more closely together’.

‘How we work across our existing local government structure, and with our partners is key to how this will work,” said Councillor John Hart, leader of Devon County Council.

Cabinet Members at the Devon and Torbay councils this month will be told that it’s ‘critically important’ that Devon’s District councils have a voice in the Devon and Torbay CCA, and the ability to influence its work.

The CCA now proposes that Devon’s City, District and Borough councils, the Devon Association of Local Councils representing Devon’s Town and Parish Councils, the County Council and the two National Park Authorities, will all sit as part of one formal Team Devon Joint Committee to offer its collective voice in the CCA.

District councils and housing associations will also work with Torbay Council’s housing function and the CCA to accelerate delivery of more housing across Devon and Torbay.

District councils will also be involved in creating a joint strategic transport plan for Devon and Torbay so that land-use and housing plan areas align to transport plans and sustainable transport options.

A draft constitution that would set out how the CCA would be governed is due to be considered by Devon and Torbay Councils in September.