I've been extremely lucky to have had a long and satisfying career in local government. Some of my political opponents might say too long.

But one of the most satisfying moments is set to be the completion of our devolution deal with the Government to transfer powers and funding from Westminster and Whitehall to Devon.

We've worked closely with our colleagues in Devon's eight district councils, our towns and parishes, the National Parks and Torbay on our proposals over a number of years.

And you may have seen that the Levelling Up Minister, Jacob Young, was here last month to sign the ground-breaking deal.

Last week both my Cabinet and Torbay's Cabinet backed the proposals and we are now embarking on a public consultation to ask you what you think. We'll also be consulting business leaders, local government colleagues and our universities and colleges and, all being well, we will be able to conclude the deal later this year.

I firmly believe this will be one of the most ground-breaking developments in decades for the one million people we represent in Devon and Torbay.

Under our proposals we will have stronger links with Homes England to develop more affordable housing - a vital necessity for thousands of local people who currently don't have anywhere safe and warm to call home.

That will also feed in to an improving economy because many businesses are currently hamstrung by the lack of homes. Even if they can recruit a suitably qualified person, they often can't find anywhere to live.

We will also work more closely with employers and our schools, colleges and universities to ensure we have the skilled workforce our economy needs and we will take direct control of adult education to enable us to create thousands of new training opportunities.

The initial agreement with the Government will also see us receiving £16 million to invest in new green jobs, homes, skills and business growth and accelerate our transition to a net-zero economy.

Devon and Torbay would work in a more integrated way to improve public transport and introduce a single ticketing system for travellers.

And there would be a significant boost to high-growth business sectors such as advanced marine engineering, defence and digital

None of this will require new layers of bureaucracy. We have resisted a directly elected Mayor. That can work well in urban areas but not somewhere like Devon with its spread out population and scores of communities with their own individual identities.

Instead councillors who you have already elected to represent you on our county, district and unitary councils would come together with leading figures from business and education to make decisions.

I have always said I believe we can do things more efficiently and more effectively here in Devon for the communities we know rather than decisions being made in London.  I believe this is a real opportunity for us to take the initiative and make a real difference to people’s lives in ways that matter to them the most, tackling the shortage of affordable housing and the need for more investment to support local businesses. It will bring new training and re-training opportunities and enable us to increase productivity and help people working here to boost their pay and have a better standard of living.

In means Devon and Torbay will have a new and very different relationship with the Government - one where we will have a stronger voice in Whitehall and an ability to influence policy for the benefit of our residents, communities and businesses.

It’s just the beginning of the new opportunities on which we can build.