I’ve always believed that local areas should be allowed to decide as much as possible for themselves.
That’s the principle behind devolution, which is something we’ve been pressing for here in the Greater Lincolnshire area.
In the last County News, we asked for your views about a proposed agreement transferring powers and funding from the government down to a local level.
We had a superb response to the survey, with more than 4,400 of you taking part, either through the magazine or online.
First of all, thank you to everyone who got involved in the consultation and told us what they thought.
The results confirm what people often say as I go around the county – that they generally support what we’re trying to achieve with devolution.
However, people have very mixed views on an elected mayor, which the government had said we would need to secure the deal.
So what exactly is it all about? And where do we go from here?
The initial agreement was put together by the 10 local authorities in our area, stretching from the Humber to the Wash, plus the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
The main proposal was for a “Mayoral Combined Authority” – a new board with a representative from each of the councils and the LEP.
There would also have been a mayor directly elected by residents, similar to the arrangement in London and other big cities.
Now the survey results have been analysed, I can tell you that:
- 47% of you backed the idea of a Mayoral Combined Authority, while 49% opposed it.
- 59% felt that councils should pursue devolved powers for the Greater Lincolnshire area.
- 73% thought that councils should prioritise economic growth, infrastructure and housing.
- 77% wanted councils to pursue further funding – in addition to what’s in the current deal – in these key areas.
- Only 38% were keen on the possibility of combining the Police and Crime Commissioner role with that of an elected mayor, with 56% against.
During September and October, each of the 10 councils will now meet to consider its own response to the consultation findings.
We’re also contacting the government to discuss what the devolution options might be without an elected mayor – something many residents clearly don’t want.
Looking at the bigger picture, changes at a national level since Theresa May became Prime Minister could make a difference.
In particular, there might be more scope under her new administration to get devolved powers without having a mayor.
However, we need to know what that would mean for the deal we negotiated previously – would Greater Lincolnshire still get the same new funding and powers?
Whatever happens with these ongoing discussions, we’ll continue to press for the best deal and the most suitable arrangements for our area.
In those discussions, your views will be uppermost in our minds, so thank you again to everyone who shared them with us.
The full devolution survey results and reports can be viewed at www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/greaterlincs.