Why Labour oppose an elected mayor for Lincolnshire

Robert Parker is the Labour Lincolnshire County Councillor for the Lincoln West ward.

There’s just a few days left to stop the Tory Government imposing a single elected mayor for the Humber to the Wash with massive new powers.

In his final Budget, former Chancellor George Osborne announced the creation of a new ‘devolved’ Greater Lincolnshire Authority – but only if the ten current local councils agree to an all-powerful directly elected mayor.

I’ve not met anyone across our county – of any party or none – who thinks creating yet another expensive tier of local government is a good idea. It’s been called a gravy train, an unwanted quango, a waste of our money!

Even some senior Tories have condemned it as crazy – Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh accused Osborne of acting like a ‘dictator’ in ‘blackmailing’ the people of Lincolnshire.

Others believe that having a mayor forced on us may be a price worth paying to get Osborne’s bribe of an ‘extra’ £15 million a year to spend across the ten current councils covering the Humber to the Wash.

If you believe it’s new money, of course £15 million would be welcome. But it’s a drop in the ocean compared to the six years of damaging Tory cuts we’ve already suffered – £40 million was slashed from Lincolnshire County Council’s budget by Government in the past year alone – with £50 million more cuts still to come.

In addition, millions have been axed from the budgets of the other nine authorities, again with more cuts planned to the vital services that the most vulnerable in our society rely on.

Many believe that creating an directly elected mayor is Osborne’s scam to devolve blame for even bigger cuts to come.

And of course, here in Lincoln, we’ve had an elected mayor for hundreds and hundreds of years!

There’s only a few days left in the official consultation for you and others to make your views known. Closing date is next Monday, August 8 at 5pm.

While there’s been very limited publicity on the consultation, there is a form in the current Lincolnshire County Council print publication County News. You can also get them from council venues like libraries and leisure centres.

You can also fill it in quickly online here.

Lincolnshire County Labour Group believe that devolution WITHOUT a directly elected Mayor should be an option.

The fact we have a ‘new’ government provides the chance for ministers to have a rethink.

That’s why we’ve written to the new Chancellor pointing out that across the political spectrum in Lincolnshire, there’s absolutely no appetite for a directly elected mayor and asking him to reconsider Osborne’s so called deal for Greater Lincolnshire.

Over the summer, Lincolnshire Labour has successfully campaigned to stop the Tories making Lincoln the only city in the country without fire-fighters on duty at the fire station 24/7.

Let’s make our voice is heard even louder this time.