No mayor, no deal for county

Ashley Baxter
Ashley Baxter
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More power will only be given to local authorities if Lincolnshire agrees to have an elected mayor.

But that is not a positive feeling among a number of representatives in South Holland and South Kesteven District Councils.

Councillor Malcolm Chandler ANL-140107-120921001

Councillor Malcolm Chandler ANL-140107-120921001

Public consultation is currently underway on plans to create a new Greater Lincolnshire combined authority which would be made up of elected councillors from the ten councils between the Wash to the Humber overseen by a county mayor.

While ‘devolution’ would see more power given to make decisions locally, rather than by central Government - there are arguments that a mayor for the county would be out of touch with people in Spalding and the immediate surrounding area.

Coun Ashley Baxter (Independent) who represents Market Deeping and West Deeping Ward for South Kesteven District Council believes that a mayor would be unaccountable and that very few people would identify with a mayor who would control an area from the Humber down to the Wash and the Welland.

He said: “I have looked for an answer in favour of a mayor and many are confused about the need. It seems the mayor is the only way to get devolution and the mayor is being forced on Lincolnshire by central Government. Power should be devolved to the lowest practical source - Brussels to London, London to Lincoln, Lincoln to Grantham, Grantham to the Deepings. “There needs to be a change in the system and I am for devolution but will the mayor be in touch with local issues? If we’re talking about the A15 or issues at the Tallington crossing, would there be more interest in this than issues in Cleethorpes or Lincoln?

“I heard somewhere ‘no mayor, no deal’. That is what has been offered - no money if there is no mayor.”

Coun Malcolm Chandler (Conservative), who represents Whaplode and Holbeach St Johns Ward for South Holland District Council said: “If the Government had called it (the mayor) a ‘chairman’ it may have been accepted but if you think of a mayor you think of a tricorne hat and robe or think of the mayor as the autonomy of London.

“We have debated on whether we need a mayor or not but if we believe in devolution for accelerated growth for Greater Linconshire this is something we would have to live with.”

Public consultation on the devolution plans ends on August 8 with the results going to Government on August 26.

• If devolution goes ahead a new combined ‘super’ authority would include elected representatives from the ten councils across Lincolnshire.

These are: Boston Borough Council, City of Lincoln Council, East Lindsey District Council, Lincolnshire County Council, North East Lincolnshire Council, North Lincolnshire Council, North Kesteven District Council, South Holland District Council, South Kesteven District Council and West Lindsey District Council.

Those in favour of the deal believe it could be an opportunity to improve local services for residents, bring about stronger economic growth and increase the number of jobs in the region.

There would also be the opportunity to gain further responsibilities and funding from Government in the future.

Under the deal an additional £450m could be sought over the next 30 years to support key infrastructure projects selected by the new Greater Lincolnshire combined authority.

Devolution proposals also include the option of combining the mayoral role with that of the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner.