City of Lincoln Council Leader Ric Metcalfe has said the government’s multi-million pound devolution settlement will be a “great opportunity” for Greater Lincolnshire governments to increase their powers.
As confirmed in Chancellor George Osborne’s budget announcement on March 16, powers will be devolved to a Greater Lincolnshire ‘combined authority’, chaired by a directly elected mayor.
Despite previous comments that he would not be in favour of a directly elected mayor, stating the role held “pathetic democratic legitimacy”, Councillor Metcalfe admitted it was the only way the region would see powers devolved.
Funding and responsibilities will include transport, housing, skills training and flood risk management.
Further commitments are also agreed on health and social care, as well as court and prison services.
The combined authority will receive £15 million a year, for the next 30 years, for infrastructure projects to boost economic growth, and will have responsibility for a devolved and consolidated, multi-year local transport budget for the entire combined authority area.
The 10 local authorities involved are North Lincolnshire Council, South Kesteven District Council, West Lindsey District Council, South Holland District Council, City of Lincoln Council, East Lindsey District Council, Boston Borough Council, North Kesteven District Council, North East Lincolnshire Council and Lincolnshire County Council.
The bid also has the support of other public bodies like the Local Enterprise Partnership and Lincolnshire Police.
Each council will have to formally agree the deal at their full council, following consultation with residents in the summer.
Elections for the Greater Lincolnshire Mayor are expected to fall around May 2017, however no date has been confirmed.
Ric Metcalfe explained key priorities would be around projects that have the most economic value like creating jobs and facilitating house building. There will be a focus on improved road and rail infrastructure
He said: “The proposals are based on current Strategic Economic Plan so there’s certainly no shortage of projects for spending the money we are anticipating we will get.”