Greater Lincolnshire authorities submitted today an outline proposal to central government for a radical multi-million pound devolution settlement.
As previously reported, the initial expression of interest proposes that commissioning and delivery of public services is redeployed to the county, giving partnered authorities and organisations greater powers over things like transport, policing and health.
In similar fashion to the devolution settlement to Greater Manchester last year, the bid has the potential to expand on high-growth targets in key sectors and build financial resilience.
At a meeting on Friday, September 4, leaders and representatives from Lincolnshire’s district councils, Lincolnshire County Council and North and North East Lincolnshire councils highlighted the bid’s growth potential.
Dependent on the government’s response to proposals, the 10 partners forecast an increased value of the Greater Lincolnshire economy by £8 billion, 29,000 new jobs and delivery of 100,000 new homes.
There would also be a redesign locally of services for the administration of justice, health and social care, flood and water management and public safety.
It is expected that the impact on the area’s £1 billion tourism industry alone would be doubled, and among the more unique proposals is the transfer of prison controls.
Each organisation would retain their current responsibilities and powers, but would work together to meet any new powers agreed with government.
The purpose of the bid is to enter into discussions with the government over precise governance arrangements. The journey to a decision is expected to take around 18 months.
Leader of the City of Lincoln Council Ric Metcalfe said: “All of the partners in Greater Lincolnshire have got a hugely ambitious growth plan to grow the economy that accords with the government’s agenda for growing the national economy.
“If the government can agree to give us more powers and more resources that are currently controlled by Whitehall then we think we can go even further than we are already going.
“There are lots of areas that we are looking for more support from government. This is not a begging bowl, this is us saying ‘we are a highly successful area, give us more powers and greater flexibility.
“It’s not new money, it’s redeployment of it to local government who know what the needs of the local economy are.
“We haven’t grossed up the disaggregation or redeployment of budgets that we are looking for, but we are looking into at least the millions if not greater.
“There are always risks in life. Once we get into the negotiations and know the government’s response and limitations of their offer, we will be able to assess those risks more clearly.
“I hope within weeks we will have some indication whether our expression of interest is a runner.”
It also builds on the success and work alongside the Greater Lincolnshire LEP.
Ursula Lidbetter, Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire LEP, said: “To achieve the ambitions of our Strategic Economic Plan, it’s imperative that Greater Lincolnshire have devolved accountability and budgets for the key levers of our economy.
“Through the devolution process the Greater Lincolnshire LEP will continue to work with our public and private sectors, ensuring by alignment of our resources that local businesses retain a strong voice in the decisions and planning of investment in our area.”
Deputy Leader at Lincolnshire County Council Councillor Patricia Bradwell added: “The bid launched today is a great opportunity to drive the economy.
“We’ve talked a lot about changes to how we work with health and social care, picking up the prison. Running the prison locally would be something unusual.
“It’s about growing the economy and it’s also a business document. We are working very closely so we can get things moving in the county.
“We have the Greater Lincolnshire LEP, which has been driving business and brought in a lot of funding. This is one step higher than that.”
Liz Redfern, Leader of North Lincolnshire Council said people in the area will see a flurry of opportunities opened up if the devolution plans go ahead.
“When I became leader at the council my number one priority was businesses and bringing new businesses to the area. Businesses need confidence and they want to know that their authority is going to be 100% behind them.
“I think the public will see it that we are giving it a go and being big and bold, that’s what businesses want to hear.”
North Kesteven District Council Leader Cllr Marion Brighton OBE, said: “Devolution will help us to make a difference in many areas, most significantly in relation to economic growth, housing, health and social care.
“At this stage, our proposals represent an expression of interest for the government to consider. No firm decisions have been taken and all partners will have the opportunity to review detailed proposals in due course.”