County councillors ‘acting like dogs in a manger’: Lincoln MP on devolution rejection

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“South Lincolnshire turkeys surprisingly did not vote for Christmas”: the words of displeased Lincoln MP Karl McCartney after county councillors decided to reject the area’s proposed devolution deal.

Greater Lincolnshire’s prospects for devolved powers from central government and a directly elected mayor were toppled yesterday as county councillors overwhelmingly shunned the bid.

The deal would create a new combined authority, unifying 10 Greater Lincolnshire councils, overseen by a mayor.

The new authority would receive £15 million a year for the next 30 years to support infrastructure projects.

Eight out of 10 councils have so far voted for the deal, but Lincolnshire County Council’s was the first refusal, casting significant doubt over whether negotiations can be revived.

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

Member of Parliament for Lincoln Karl McCartney said: “It’s hugely disappointing – but not at all surprising in some respects – that Lincolnshire’s County Councillors have voted against the ‘devolution and elected Mayor for Greater Lincolnshire’ proposals.

“I’ve always been very much in support of taking financial power away from the county councillors, most of whom are from the south of the county and tend to take a parochial outlook on matters wherever and whenever possible.

“South Lincolnshire Turkeys surprisingly do not vote for Christmas; nor do our matriarchal councillors always know what’s best for us all across the county and Greater Lincolnshire.

“But we do need to take a strategic view for investment in infrastructure in the future.

“I am still hopeful for the deal and am heartened that it seems all the district councils across Greater Lincolnshire, and our own city council, also support devolution wholeheartedly. They all can’t be wrong.

“Clearly county councillors have not grasped the potential of these proposals and are acting like dogs in a manger, or turkeys in late Autumn, which is why I will be encouraging the government not to change its stance and to continue to press for devolution and an elected Executive Mayor for Greater Lincolnshire.”

Councillor Ric Metcalfe, Leader of City of Lincoln Council

Councillor Ric Metcalfe, Leader of City of Lincoln Council

The Conservative MP’s views were echoed by the Labour City of Lincoln Council leader Ric Metcalfe.

Councillor Metcalfe said: “We are obviously very disappointed. Even though we were not comfortable with having a mayor ourselves we feel the benefits of devolution would, over time, outweigh this and provide the best for the people of Lincoln.”

The decision on Lincolnshire County Council’s overall vote still rests with county council leader Martin Hill.

He’ll have to consider the disappointment voiced by other council leaders in the county.