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21.10.16

Lincolnshire devolution in doubt after county council votes against it

Lincolnshire’s devolution deal could be delayed or cancelled after Lincolnshire county council members voted against it.

At a meeting yesterday, the council voted 43 to 17 against the deal, with five abstentions.

The deal would have seen 10 Lincolnshire councils form a Greater Lincolnshire Combined Authority, with an elected mayor, and receive an additional £15m a year from central government for the next 30 years.

Cllr Martin Hill, leader of Lincolnshire county council, said: “I won’t be signing or not signing the deal until later next month so technically it’s still alive but it would take a lot to overturn what was a clear, strong view from councillors.

“If the government turned around and said we didn’t need the directly elected mayor I think that would make a massive difference.”

He added that the county council has been the main driver of devolution, and “it’s a shame that it looks like it’s probably going to come to an end”.

Cllr Marion Brighton, leader of North Kesteven district council, said she was “deeply disappointed” with this “major setback”.

“The hope was to attract and direct, through partnership of all 10 Greater Lincolnshire councils and other agencies, investments of more than £450m to stimulate homes, jobs, infrastructure and skills locally,” added Cllr Brighton.

“It has always been my concern that if we do not take this golden opportunity now any delays would put us at the back of the queue with fewer resources available to us.

“I look forward to continuing discussions with those who are committed and hope we can unite as we continue to seek the best outcome we can achieve.”

The news is the latest blow to the devolution agenda, after the government withdrew the North East devolution deal when it was rejected by four North East Combined Authority councils.

Devolution in Sheffield is also facing a legal challenge from Derbyshire county council.

Recently, the Local Government Information Unit accused Theresa May’s government of having “gone walkabout on devolution” following the Conservative party conference.

(Image c. Lee Haywood)

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