February 17, 2022 5.30 pm

Boris Johnson in Lincolnshire: County will get devolution – but doesn’t need a mayor

“We’ve very keen to push ahead,” says PM

The government is “very keen” to push ahead with a devolution deal for Lincolnshire — but it doesn’t need to be led by a mayor, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

During a visit to Lincolnshire, Mr Johnson came to The Lincolnite newsroom where he answered questions from reporters, residents and local leaders.

In a video question, Lincolnshire County Council leader Councillor Martin Hill said his authority was “ready, willing and able” to proceed with a government deal on devolution.

“We have a good plan in place, and we have agreement on how we can proceed with fellow councils.

“So we would very much like you to be able to proceed with our devolution, devolution deal as quickly as possible, rather than have to wait for some time.”

Mr Johnson said it was “very much up to Lincolnshire” how to proceed and that he was “very, very keen to push ahead.”

“The White Paper [on devolution] makes it clear that we’re happy to come up with a model that fits Lincolnshire.

“You don’t have to impose a mayoral model. I was a beneficiary of the mayoral model in London, but you know, there are all sorts of ways of doing it,” he said.

Advantages of the deal he said would include ensuring local people “who understand the issues, and who are responsible for delivery of services, are able to champion their area more effectively, to act as ambassadors for for their area, and to prioritise things that really need need doing.”

Boris Johnson said: “We have brilliant people in places like Lincolnshire, who could manage finances well and we want to devolve where we can.

“But we’ve got to come up with the right, the right model for it and one that one that fits the needs of local communities.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to reporters during his tour of the county on Thursday. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Lincolnshire was not included among the first round of talks on the latest devolution plans revealed at the start of February.

However, the councils, which include district authorities and North and North East Lincolnshire have a 10-point plan which they submitted to government. And they say they have a “compelling case” ready to go.

The 400-page Levelling Up white paper sets out how the government will improve services such as education, broadband and transport by 2030, including how, by that point every part of England will be offered a “London-style” devolution deal.

Lincolnshire County Council and South Kesteven District Council rejected a settlement on offer from the government in 2016 declining to have a mayor.