Lincolnshire county councillors reject devolution deal

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Plans for a significant transfer of powers from Westminster to Greater Lincolnshire appear in tatters after county councillors overwhelmingly rejected the proposed devolution deal.

The deal on offer would create a new combined authority, with a directly elected mayor.

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

Funding and responsibilities would include transport, housing, skills training and flood risk management.

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

Lincolnshire County Council leader Martin Hill

Lincolnshire County Council leader Martin Hill

However, the final decision rests with Lincolnshire county council leader Martin Hill.

He said: “It’s a bit like Boris Johnson with Brexit – I think you could equally make a strong case for going down a certain road or for not doing so.

“I will not be able to deliver devolution without a directly elected mayor.

“This is not pure devolution but the first step on the road. If you signed up to this combined mayoral authority deal, you will be given preferential treatment from government when future devolution deals come along.

“This deal would secure the future of Greater Lincolnshire.”

Vocal opposition

Labour opposition leader on the council, Councillor John Hough, said: “I don’t think we can do a Donald Trump and claim the consultation was fixed. I think we have to look at what the people of Lincolnshire said.

“They feel the mayor is another layer of bureaucracy on top of what we have already got. They feel it’s an unnecessary expense.”

Conservative councillor and cabinet member Richard Davies voted against the proposals.

He said: “I don’t really care about the mayoral aspect really. I’m no great lover of government of any sort.

“The scariest words in the English language as Reagan famously said were: ‘Hello I’m from the government, I’m here to help’. The second scariest words are: ‘I think I agree with John Hough’.

“When I return back to Grantham, God’s chosen town, how can I seriously suggest that we fix two broken layers of local government in Lincolnshire by the addition of a further two? On no level does that make sense.

“We’ve been negotiating for months. Time and time again we put in black and white what we want and time and time again the bureaucrats in Westminster throw it back in our face.”

So far seven out of 10 local authorities voted to move the devolution deal, with the county council being the first to reject it.