The Lincolnite’s coverage of the announcement of a devolution deal involving East Midlands neighbours Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire has renewed interest in the progress being made here in Greater Lincolnshire for a similar devolution deal with government.
As The Lincolnite rightly point out, a devolution deal will require the setting up of a new combined authority led by a directly elected mayor to exercise the new powers devolved to it by government.
All of the existing local councils will remain as now, and I expect will want to work with the new combined authority to help make a success of the devolution agreement.
The new combined authority is not meant to be a “supreme decision making authority” in a hierarchical relationship with other local councils in the area. It is there purely to take a strategic approach to mobilising a collective effort to realise the benefits of a devolution deal and play its part in addressing some of the long standing issues our communities face.
It will be vital that the new combined authority commands public confidence and democratic legitimacy and to do that it will need to show that it is adding value and will not become another unwelcome layer of self serving bureaucracy.
I agree with Cllr Martin Hill that existing district councils in Lincolnshire , including the City of Lincoln Council, should have “a strong role” in the whole process.
Your local district councils in Lincolnshire are highly successful organisations, providing many vital local services, are close to their communities and enjoy significant local support.
It would totally unsustainable to imagine a new combined mayoral authority without the full and equal participation of local district councils.
Their sovereignty must be respected in any new governance arrangements for Lincolnshire with choice built in about partnership projects undertaken on the basis of proper judgements about what is best for their local communities
District councils are very well placed to be commissioned by the new combined authority to implement economic growth projects or whatever else that it has been collectively agreed is good for one and all.
I welcome the potential benefits of a devolution deal but robust democratic governance arrangements will be essential for its success.