How devolved authority will help us thrive

Gary Porter
Gary Porter
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CABINET CALL: By South Holland District Council Leaders Gary Porter

You may have seen in recent weeks that South Holland District Council is working with nine other local authorities in Lincolnshire to deliver a devolution deal for our area.

Devolution is the transfer of powers and funding from Westminster to local councils with the aim of driving economic growth and ensuring that more decisions can be made locally.

I’m using this column to bring you up to speed on the progress so far and what will happen next.

An expression of interest in a deal was made to the government back in September and since then we have been involved in intensive negotiations.

We are now clear about what we are asking from Whitehall. This is:

• A 30-year annual growth fund to be spent on making the investment necessary to create new jobs. This is likely to be worth from £20 - £30 million a year

• A devolved fund to pay for critical improvements to Lincolnshire’s roads and other infrastructure

• An accelerated housing programme

• Control over government money that pays for skills and further education. This will enable us to better match training to the needs of employers

• Control over EU money that is earmarked for Greater Lincolnshire

• Approval of a number of new enterprise zones.

But this is a deal and the government will want something in exchange.

As well as having to match the government’s money, they will also want assurances that we can deliver our promises.

This means we will have to set up a new ‘combined authority’ that will take responsibility for everything that is devolved from government, the ten Council Leaders will form its Cabinet and there will also be need for one directly accountable person who speaks for Greater Lincolnshire. That means having an elected mayor.

We will now be seeking formal assurance from all of the councils that they agree on the proposals and that they sign up to the idea of a combined authority with an elected mayor.

There will be continued negotiation with government, with a view to agreeing important details including the financial aspects.

If all of this goes according to plan, in the next couple of months we could have a formal proposition to put before all of South Holland’s councillors to see if they agree.

I hope as part of that they will be taking advice from you and other residents about how they should vote.