Lincolnshire

Government ‘Brexit obsession’ delaying council plans

The government’s “obsession with Brexit” is delaying vital plans which could benefit local authorities, according to the leader of Lincolnshire County Council.

Councillor Martin Hill said discussions over devolution and proposals for adult social care funding have not progressed because MPs are “stuck” over how to leave the European Union.

The government has delayed a green paper, which is expected to outline future plans for adult care, four times.

Meanwhile, Councillor Hill said discussions with ministers over more devolved powers for Lincolnshire have not made any progress.

He added that any extension to the Brexit process would only prolong uncertainty for councils.

Prime Minister Theresa May and EU Council President Jean-Claude Juncker.

“They’re all obsessed with Brexit at the moment,” he said.

“There are all sorts of things we want to do, there’s the green paper on adult care which the government is going to propose some solutions to funding in the future.

“There are things that are just stuck in the log jam of Brexit and I just wish the House of Commons would get to a resolution where they can agree to do something so councils and business know what they’re dealing with.

“I think this current uncertainty is very bad and I think it would be disastrous if we ended up with a long extension because we can’t carry on like this for much longer.”

Lincolnshire County Council sign outside head offices on Newland, Lincoln. Picture: Calvin Robinson

The government’s plan for adult social care is expected to be published in the spring.

Council bosses held meetings with ministers last year over possible devolved powers and had been exploring options for partnerships with other East Midlands authorities.

Meanwhile, MPs last night voted to force Prime Minister Theresa May to ask for an extension to Article 50, delaying the Brexit process in an effort to avoid a no-deal scenario.

The UK is set to leave the EU on April 12 after Mrs May secured an extension from the European Council.

Unless MPs decide on a withdrawal agreement, the UK is set to leave without a deal.

Grantham and Stamford MP, Nick Boles, who recently resigned from the Conservative Party over Brexit, described such a scenario as “disastrously bad” for his constituency.

But, Councillor Colin Davie, executive member for economy at the county council, said a no-deal exit would be “low risk” for the region.

The government has also been criticised by council bosses in North East Lincolnshire for having “no direction” over Brexit planning.


SUBSCRIBE TO LOCAL DEMOCRACY WEEKLY, our exclusive email newsletter with highlights from our coverage every week and insights and analysis from our local democracy reporters.