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Devolution to be voted on by councils next week

5:19 pm, Tuesday, 5th March 2024 - 3 weeks ago

Devolution

North East Lincolnshire Council Leader, Cllr Philip Jackson is pictured (second right) at the signing of the Greater Lincolnshire Devolution deal proposal last November, with Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Jacob Young, (second left) and the Leaders of Lincolnshire County Council Cllr Martin Hill OBE (left), and North Lincolnshire Council, Cllr Rob Waltham MBE).

COUNCILS in Greater Lincolnshire are preparing to vote on taking the next steps towards devolution.

Last year, an agreement was made between government and the three Lincolnshire lead authorities – Lincolnshire County Council, and North East Lincolnshire and North Lincolnshire unitary authorities – for extra powers and funding to be transferred from Westminster.

The idea is that local decision-makers better understand the needs of businesses and residents here and can allocate funding for things like adult education, transport and business growth.  The proposal secures new investment of at least £720m into Greater Lincolnshire over the next 30 years. And this is just a starting point, with further deals and funding expected in future. It does not affect how local councils currently operate.

As part of the legal process, the full devolution proposal was taken to consultation with residents, businesses, and organisations across the whole area, with a survey and public events during December and January.

A report has now been released that will be considered at three North East Lincolnshire Council meetings next week – Scrutiny, Cabinet, and finally Full Council on Thursday 14 March where all members will have a vote on whether the proposed devolution deal is taken forward. Similar meetings are taking place in Lincolnshire and North Lincolnshire.

The report gives an overview of the ambitions of the proposed deal, which it says will secure:

  • A Mayoral Investment Fund of £24 million per annum for 30 years to invest in infrastructure and skills development totalling £720m.
  • One off £28.4m capital investment in Greater Lincolnshire’s priorities.
  • £2m capacity funding over 3 years.
  • £1m skills for jobs funding.
  • Local control over the Adult Education Budget from 2026.
  • A consolidated, multi-year transport fund, providing increased financial certainty.

The report outlines the outcome of the public consultation, with the full consultation results document also released. The latter states how the consultation received 4,101 responses, which relative to its total population of 1.1 million, means that Greater Lincolnshire achieved ‘the highest response rate across recent devolution consultations’.

The results show that a majority supported the objectives of the devolution deal, but there was less positivity about having a new body to oversee these powers, headed by an elected Mayor. However, it explains how the Level 3 Combined County Authority, and the funding that comes with it, can only be achieved with a directly elected Mayor as that is current government policy.

Therefore, adds the report: ‘It is considered that the benefits available from a Level 3 deal justify proceeding with the Proposal including the establishment of a Combined County Authority with a directly elected Mayor’.

North East Lincolnshire Council Leader, Cllr Philip Jackson, said: “I am pleased that residents across the whole of Greater Lincolnshire showed that, whilst there are some understandable questions, on balance they share our view that this is the best way forward if we want both our local area and the wider county to grow and prosper.

“I have said all along that I support this deal, not just as the Leader of the Council, but as a life-long resident of North East Lincolnshire.

“We have ambition, and we have determination to improve. That is what we must do for the future of everyone here. Devolution gives us the freedom to continue our transformation here in our borough whilst uniting with our colleagues across the greater county to achieve far more for the whole region.

“If we move forward with this, I assure you too that our strength here along the Humber bank will also be secured with arrangements in place for businesses across the Humber to continue their work together.

“Devolution does not mean losing the vital links we already have with our partners across the Humber – quite the opposite. In fact, we will seek to strengthen those relationships and look at how we can develop, from north to south, to improve things such as transport links and the green agenda to further skills and opportunity, and grow business and productivity,” added Cllr Jackson.

 Find out more about devolution can be found at Greater Lincolnshire Devolution | NELC (nelincs.gov.uk)

The results of the public consultation found that from more than 4,100 responses:

– 53% agreed with the proposals relating to new jobs and business growth, 32% disagreed, and 15% did not know or were neutral.

– 57% agreed with the proposals relating to education and training, 31% disagreed, and 12% did not know or were neutral.

– 57% agreed with the proposals relating to roads, buses and transport, 33% disagreed, and 10% did not know or were neutral.

– 48% agreed with the proposals relating to homes and communities, 37% disagreed, and 14% did not know or were neutral.

– 57% agreed with the proposals relating to the environment, 31% disagreed, and 12% did not know or were neutral.

– 39% agreed with the proposals relating to governance, 49% disagreed, and 13% did not know or were neutral.   More detailed results can be found by accessing the full council papers, which are at Greater-Lincolnshire-Devolution-PDF-4489KBicon-namepaperclip-prefixfa.pdf (nelincs.gov.uk).

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