Councils around Exeter are set to form the second of potentially four overlapping bodies concerned with economic development.
Exeter and the Heart of Devon comprises Exeter City Council, East Devon and Mid Devon DCs and Teignbridge BC.
All these councils are also involved in the stalled Heart of the South West devolution bid, and are also expected to join the Heart of the South West joint committee now being formed to drive forward a regional productivity plan, seen as a means of improving the regional economy in the absence of devolved powers.
Exeter, Plymouth City Council, and Torbay BC are also involved in a nascent plan for a ‘golden triangle’ devolution bid based on these three urban areas.
A report to councils in Exeter and the Heart of Devon noted: “The ‘travel to work’ area for Exeter has expanded significantly over the previous ten years, covering much of our neighbouring local authorities.
“This has enabled a trusting and confidential relationship to emerge which has aided joint projects to be developed.”
Its objects include improving productivity, attracting investment in high-value priority, and supporting regeneration.
Each council leads on a different aspect: business transformation, Mid Devon; inward investment, Exeter; employment and skills, Teignbridge; strategic planning and infrastructure, East Devon.
Exeter leader Peter Edwards (Lab) told LGC: “This will be in addition to the Heart of the South West joint committee for the productivity plan, we are just trying everything we can to get more money.”
Cllr Edwards said he doubted the Heart of the South West devolution bid - which involves Plymouth, Torbay and all councils in Devon and Somerset - would make progress because the government insisted on an elected mayor.
Councils involved in the golden triangle are expected to shortly put initial proposals to the government.