Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire devolution derailed? County councillors vote down mayor plans

This story is over

Lincolnshire county councillors have voted down devolution proposals that would see an elected new mayor for the region and extra funding of £15 million per year.

A total of 43 councillors voted against the proposals at a meeting on Thursday, October 20, with 17 voting in favour and five abstentions.

Many councillors expressed their anger at the plans for an elected mayor, a perceived failure of government to listen to their concerns, and fears of two extra layers of local government bureaucracy.

Lincolnshire County Council leader Martin Hill

Lincolnshire County Council leader Martin Hill

The vote was only a recommendation for the leader of the council, Martin Hill, who ultimately makes the final decision by November 21.

He said: “I think today is quite momentous. It’s a bit like Boris Johnson with Brexit – I think you could equally make a strong case for going down a certain road or for not doing so.

“I will not be able to deliver devolution without a directly elected mayor.

“This is not pure devolution but the first step on the road. If you signed up to this combined mayoral authority deal, you will be given preferential treatment from government when future devolution deals come along.

“This deal would secure the future of Greater Lincolnshire.”

So far seven out of 10 local authorities voted to move the devolution deal, with the county council being the first to reject it.

All 10 district councils from across Greater Lincolnshire must agree on the plans before the government moves ahead with the devolution deal.

County Councillor Richard Davies is in charge of highways and transportation at Lincolnshire County Council. Photo: Steve Smailes

County Councillor Richard Davies is in charge of highways and transportation at Lincolnshire County Council. Photo: Steve Smailes

Conservative county councillor and cabinet member Richard Davies voted against the proposals.

He said: “I don’t really care about the mayoral aspect really. I’m no great lover of government of any sort.

“When I return back to Grantham, how can I seriously suggest that we fix two broken layers of local government in Lincolnshire by the addition of a further two? On no level does that make sense.

“We’ve been negotiating for months. Time and time again we put in black and white what we want and time and time again the bureaucrats in Westminster throw it back in our face.”

Key points of the Lincolnshire devolution proposal include:

  • A new combined authority would receive £15 million a year, for the next 30 years, for infrastructure projects
  • Funding and responsibilities would include transport, housing, skills training and flood risk management
  • A directly elected mayor would lead the combined authority, with elections potentially taking place in 2017
  • All the councils would continue to exist in their current form