Devolution: the way forward for the Thames Valley?

Reading town hall

18 July 2016

The recent announcement that Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol City and South Gloucestershire councils are pushing ahead with a £1 billion devolution deal begs the question of what next for the Thames Valley?

At the heart of the South West deal are increased powers around infrastructure, transport and housing with £900 million of funding from central Government over the next 30 years.

The Thames Valley is of huge strategic importance to the UK. Home to the UK’s hub airport, the region is the UK’s most productive sub-region and decisions made here have a much wider impact on the UK economy.

How can the Thames Valley continue its success in light of not just the South West devolution deal but also Government-backed initiatives such as the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine? More than ever it is important to recognise that the Thames Valley not only faces competition nationally, but from competing areas in Europe.

At a recent roundtable event hosted in Turley’s Reading office, attendees were clear that more joined up thinking, represented by a single voice, is needed.

From the delivery of much-needed housing to the third bridge over the Thames and the proposed Western Rail Link to Heathrow, the causes of the Thames Valley need to be promoted energetically and the wider benefits communicated.

Political differences within the region need to be put aside and local authorities within the Thames Valley must recognise that acting as a joined up entity with a single voice is the only way to increase their ability to not just influence but dictate the future of their towns and populations.

This is not a new conversation, but it is becoming an increasingly urgent one. We look forward to continuing to contribute to the debate.