Council looks into devolved powers bid

Lincolnshire County Council leader Martin Hill (Con)
Lincolnshire County Council leader Martin Hill (Con)
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The Government devolving powers to the Lincolnshire area could provide an ‘exciting opportunity’ to change the area’s ‘destiny’, according to the leader of Lincolnshire County Council.

Coun Martin Hill revealed there had been ‘good discussions with councils and other partners in Greater Lincolnshire’ about making a bid for devolution later this year.

He also confirmed that an idea for a unitary authority to cover the county was ‘off the table’. This idea, which could have seen the joining of borough and district councils, was brought to the fore as a suggestion to help the council save £30 million a year.

He said there had not been complete agreement over unitary authorities and so the idea had been scrapped in favour of devolving powers.

He said the government had ‘made it clear’ that it would not impose or get involved in arguments.

He said: “Now that the unitary debate is off the table, we (local authorities and other organisations) are looking how else we can work together. The government want to devolve stuff away from Whitehall to local authorities.”

Devolved powers are set to give local authorities more say over how they run and fund themselves, with the idea that local people will know what they need best – going right down to parish councils.

Coun Hill said: “I think it’s an opportunity for us to grab an agenda and be more in charge of our own local destiny. Decisions could be made in Lincolnshire, for Lincolnshire instead of Westminster.

“If we did devolve stuff down from government departments I think we know we can do a more cost-efficient job in terms of delivering services.”

He said the council had held further conversations and were working with organisations like Lincolnshire Police, the Clinical Commissioning Groups and the Environment Agency to work on a bid for submission in time for the autumn sitting of Parliament.

Coun Hill felt it could also save money for those organisations involved.