Agenda item

Devolution Deal for Dorset

To consider a report by the Executive Director of Place.


The Portfolio Holder for Economic Growth and Levelling Up advised that at its meeting on 25 July 2023, Cabinet considered a report titled ‘A devolution deal for Dorset’.  Set out in the context of a further announcement by Government about devolution deals being struck and against a commitment for all areas of England which wanted one, to have a devolution deal by 2030, Cabinet thought it appropriate to consider this proposal for Dorset Council.


He continued by reporting that work had commenced to progress a devolution deal for Dorset; but it was clear that such a deal would be finalised not in the current but under a future Parliament. However, for this to occur work needed to commence now. The Portfolio Holder reported that it was generally considered that English devolution had gained a strong foothold and therefore he considered it to be prudent for Dorset Council to prepare proactively in order to be able to secure the best outcome for Dorset in the future.


The report set out the potential wider policy implications of a devolution deal and sought council’s endorsement of the need to widen the scope of the Council Plan. The Portfolio Holder acknowledged that there was no appetite for a directly elected mayor model, however, there were other models to be considered and these were set out within the report.


Councillor N Ireland, Group Leader for the Liberal Democrats group indicated that the group would be supporting the recommendation, however he advised that he did find the report vague, which was indicative of the current situation around devolution in England. He saw no reason not to support the recommendation, but expressed concerns that it would not be the financial solution for properly funded local government going forward.


Other members expressed similar concerns and sought assurances around governance, a reduction in autonomy and the potential impact on council sovereignty.


In response to questions and concerns, the Leader of the Council agreed that Council needed more information to build on this proposal before any final decision was made.  However, he sought support from members to continue conversations regarding a devolution deal for Dorset.  He confirmed that this would not affect the sovereignty of individual councils and advised that the government had acknowledged that the mayoral model doesn’t work for all areas. In response to a question around which councils Dorset was in conversation with, the Leader of the Council indicated that he was in early negotiations with some local authorities and needed to respect the Leaders of those councils, who needed to have further discussions with their own councillors and Chief Executives before proceeding.  He confirmed that all councillors would be kept fully informed of progress.


It was proposed by Cllr S Gibson and seconded by Cllr S Flower




(a)           That the pursuit of a Devolution Deal for Dorset be added to all sections of the approved Council Plan, be agreed.


·       Protecting our natural environment, climate, and ecology

·       Creating stronger, healthier communities

·       Creating sustainable development and housing

·       Driving economic prosperity

·       Becoming a more responsive, customer focused council


(b)           That work, which the Leader of the Council had progressed following the resolution made by the Cabinet on 25 July 2023, to secure a Devolution Deal for Dorset be supported.

Supporting documents: