Greater Lincolnshire

Greater Lincolnshire devolution deal could be revisited

The Greater Lincolnshire devolution deal could be revisited after council leaders across the region have held informal discussions with the government.

It comes as the leader of Lincolnshire County Council said that there is an “opportunity to revisit’ plans for a deal for more devolved powers from Westminster.

Councillor Martin Hill told councillors at a full council meeting that informal discussions had been held between the government and the 10 leaders of councils across the region.

A deal was previously proposed in the region but voted down by Lincolnshire County Council and South Kesteven District Council in 2016.

Lincolnshire County Council leader Martin Hill

Yet Councillor Hill said that the plans could now be revisited.

“The government have some manifesto commitments about combined authorities,” he said.

“There is a feeling that maybe Lincolnshire is an area that could be considered.

“The 10 council leaders have had discussions informally with the government and there is a feeling that its worth exploring again.

“To sum up, there is maybe an opportunity to revisit this again.”

He added that everybody in the council would like more services to be devolved to the region.

North Kesteven District Council leader Richard Wright. Photo: Steve Smailes/Lincolnshire Reporter

Leader of North Kesteven District Council, Councillor Richard Wright, said that discussions were ongoing with other authorities.

He said: “There are discussions on several fronts and with various agencies and authorities as to exploring ways of working together going forward.

“At this stage there are no commitments or deals to be discussed, however NKDC will look to secure the best way forward for its residents and the residents of wider Lincolnshire.”

Councillor Ray Oxby, Leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, confirmed the authority had listened to some of the very early informal discussions with other councils.

He said: “As people will be aware, while we were supportive of the original proposal in 2016, a deal that ultimately the county council itself rejected, the world has since moved on and so it’s way too early to say if our members and residents would support any future Greater Lincolnshire devolution offer.

“At the moment, there’s nothing on the table to really consider.

“However, since the original discussion, we’ve been keen to build on our reputation and excellent relationship with Whitehall and have pressed ahead with our Town Deal, which was the only initiative of its kind included in the government’s Industrial Strategy announcement last year.

“As such, our focus is mainly on ensuring that’s taken forward and delivers on the vision and ambition we have for North East Lincolnshire. ‘’

Further meetings are planned with the government and council leaders.

In 2016, the Greater Lincolnshire devolution deal was rejected over fears that an elected mayor would have created more bureaucracy.

The deal on offer would have created a new combined authority, with a directly elected mayor.

The new authority would also have received £15 million a year for the next 30 years for infrastructure projects.

Current combined authorities include Greater Manchester, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, West Midlands and the Sheffield City Region.

Meanwhile, Councillor Hill recently confirmed that discussions were ongoing with neighbouring Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire county councils about working closer together.

He said the plans were not for a ‘super council’ and were about sharing services and seeking more devolved powers.

A closer relationship between the county councils has been dubbed a ‘strategic alliance’ and could see them submit funding bids to government for major transport improvements on roads such as the A46, which cuts through the Midlands.