The leader of the Labour group on North Lincolnshire Council has raised “grave concerns” over the Greater Lincolnshire devolution deal after the chief executive of the authority stepped down from his position — on the same week a public consultation rejected the idea of an elected mayor for the region.
Councillor Len Foster said that Simon Driver’s decision to step down from his role on September 30 would leave the authority without a professional to lead negotiations on behalf of residents.
Driver had been chief executive of North Lincolnshire Council for the last 11 years.
On announcing his decision, he said: “I will look back with pride over my 35 year career in local government and reflect on a large number of achievements, professionally, personally and for the organisations that I have worked for.
“I have enjoyed supporting elected members to deliver their priorities and to deliver ever improving services to the residents of North Lincolnshire in challenging financial circumstances.”
However, Councillor Foster said: “The Tories are so out of kilter with what the public need and this week have seen the announcement of the resignation of the chief executive of North Lincolnshire Council, who has led on behalf of the council regarding the proposed devolution.
This leaves North Lincolnshire without a professional leading on our behalf and this should give us all grave concern.
Councillor Liz Redfern, leader of the council, said: “We would like to thank Simon for his professional leadership and loyalty to North Lincolnshire Council and wish him well in the future.
“We are certain the council will continue to meet the aspirations of the residents of North Lincolnshire and we look to the next stages of the development of the management to meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”
Residents split over devolution proposals
Lincolnshire residents have raised serious doubts about proposals for a Mayoral Combined Authority for the region.
Over 4,400 people responded to a consultation on plans for the Greater Lincolnshire devolution deal announced by former Chancellor George Osborne in the Budget this year.
Key points of the proposal include:
- The combined authority will receive £15 million a year, for the next 30 years, for infrastructure projects
- Funding and responsibilities will include transport, housing, skills training and flood risk management
- A directly elected mayor will lead the combined authority, with elections potentially taking place in 2017
- All the councils will continue to exist in their current form
More residents (49%) disagreed or strongly disagreed with plans for a Greater Lincolnshire Mayoral Combined Authority than agreed with them (47%).
The possibility of combining the Police and Crime Commissioner role with an elected mayor was also criticised, with 38% of respondents agreeing with the idea and 56% disagreeing.