Most people in England think devolving some responsibility to local authorities would have a positive impact on their local area, according to a survey commissioned by the ICE
Devolution measures could include establishing a new fund to support skills growth; more local flood management control; and the introduction of integrated ticketing systems
The survey of over 1,700 adults – which marks the start of the ICE’s State of the Nation: Devolution campaign – shows that public attitudes to local infrastructure decisions are largely positive. Only 26% think devolution will make local services less efficient and only 33% want it to slow down.
When asked how measures would affect their area, 64% of people said a new skills growth fund would have a positive impact and 61% said greater control of flood management would have a positive impact.
Fifty two per cent said devolution could boost local economies and 63% said plans for multimodal travel tickets would have a positive effect.
But the survey also suggested that the public is less positive about devolution plans being implemented without their views being sought.
Seventy eight per cent said local people should vote on whether powers should be devolved to their area.
When asked what should be controlled locally, bus franchising came out top, with 76% wanting local control, compared to 14% wanting centralised control.
Forty six per cent of those polled said decisions on new renewable energy facilities should be made locally, while 42% wanted central control. Forty one per cent said local government should make decisions on fracking, with the same proportion believing these decisions should lie with central government. Thirty five per cent want local control over new railway lines or stations, with 55% wanting decisions to be made centrally. Twenty three per cent said local government should decide about power stations, and 66% want those decisions made centrally. Only 19% said decisions about new motorways should be made locally, with 71% they should be made by central government.
“To get the most out of devolution, we need a greater understanding on how and where it can work most effectively,” said Jonathan Spruce, a member of the ICE’s State of the Nation: Devolution steering group.
“Our State of the Nation: Devolution campaign, which will culminate in a major report in June, will examine this, drawing on wide pool of expertise. The public has a huge stake in this debate and while this survey suggests a positive attitude, there is a desire to be more involved in the process, and strong views are emerging on which decisions should be devolved. These views will be explored and incorporated into our evidence base.”