Members of North East Lincolnshire Council last night approved proposals to form a Greater Lincolnshire combined authority, with an elected Mayor.
Councillors voted by 30 to 5 to support the proposals.
Ten local authorities, from the Humber to the Wash, have joined together to ask for some powers, responsibilities and funding from Government to be devolved to Greater Lincolnshire, meaning more decisions on public services – including transport and housing – would be made locally, rather than at a national level.
If all 10 councils sign up to this, a ‘Mayoral Combined Authority’ would be established. This would be made up of elected councillors from the 10 councils and a representative from the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and be chaired by the Directly Elected Mayor, chosen by Greater Lincolnshire residents.
The Combined Authority would not replace existing councils or affect the services they already provide. It would only be responsible for the new powers and funding devolved from central Government, which include transport, housing, skills-training and flood risk management.
Under the deal an additional £450 million over the next 30 years (£15 million per year) would be provided for investment in housing and infrastructure. It could also help to develop a better approach to skills training provision and criminal justice services in the area.
In a consultation on the issue held in the summer, while overall across the Greater Lincolnshire area the public were slightly against a Mayoral model, people in North East Lincolnshire were most strongly in favour of that model across the whole region, with 396 either strongly agreeing or agreeing, compared to 184 disagreeing or strongly disagreeing out of an NEL total of 624 who took part in the consultation.
Cllr Ray Oxby, the Leader of the Council said:
I said during the debate that I believe it’s the key role of all members in the Chamber to ensure that the residents, communities and businesses in this Borough get the best possible deal to support a sustainable future and as such, I’m delighted they voted to support the proposals.
We must maximise the impact and value of the North East Lincolnshire pound and seek to exert greater influence over our destiny as an area , without the shackles of Whitehall. Being part of this devolution deal will do that and give us a bigger influence on things that really matter and have a direct impact on the lives of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged- like transport, skills, housing and the economy.
Alongside the deal, we’ve already had a specific commitment to provide an extra £9m to turn our Grimsby West proposals into reality and confirmation that Greater Lincolnshire would be at the forefront of the £5billion nationally being set aside for housing and we’re also negotiating further commitments in relation to energy and water management.
Any major decision comes with risks and benefits – no proposal is or will ever be perfect but this devolution deal , in my view , carries more far more opportunity than risk.
For the devolution deal to be ratified, all 10 councils across Greater Lincolnshire need to vote for the proposals.