South Holland District Council members have shrugged off doubts and voted for a £15 million a year deal to bring Lincolnshire together politically.
Plans to create a Greater Lincolnshire Combined Authority, involving South Holland and nine other borough, district and county councils, were backed by 31 votes to three at a meeting of South Holland District Council last Wednesday.
The vote in favour of the devolution deal, which had been due to come into effect next May, came despite both Lincolnshire County Council and South Kesteven District Council rejecting the idea of a combined authority to be led by an elected mayor.
Coun Gary Porter, Leader of South Holland District Council, said during the meeting: “The whole point of doing this is to bring the civic county of Lincolnshire back as one county for functions currently administered by central government.
“All the other places that have got a deal have been asked to work with councils that aren’t natural allies.
“But Lincolnshire is what it is and the two councils, North East Lincolnshire and North Lincolnshire, are part of the county of Lincolnshire.”
The whole point of doing this is to bring the civic county of Lincolnshire back as one county for functions currently administered by central governmentCoun Gary Porter, Leader of South Holland District Council
Coun Porter ruled himself out of standing for Mayor and leader of the combined authority, telling councillors that his sole interest was in leading the district council.
“If you want a devolution deal, you’ve got to have a mayor and it’s a pre-requisite,” Coun Porter said.
“It’s never been in any doubt and the only doubt has been in the minds of people who don’t want one.
“It’s about bringing central government functions closer to the people of Lincolnshire and that’s the bit that makes the mayor idea attractive.
“But I’ve ruled myself out of going for the mayor because I’ve not got an interest in anything except being leader of this council.”
One of the three councillors to vote against a combined authority, with powers over transport, flood management and post-16 skills training, was former district council chairman Coun Francis Biggadike.
He said: “Not many people can ride two horses at once, except in a circus and that’s what this combined authority sounds like to me.”
After the meeting, deputy council leader Coun Malcolm Chandler said: “I am delighted with the far-sighted decision taken by councillors at the meeting last Wednesday.
“It demonstrates the determination of the council for the district to share in, and benefit from, accelerated growth and the increased value of the Greater Lincolnshire economy which a devolution agenda is aimed at delivering.
“The final date for the ten leaders to sign off the current deal is November 21 and it is important that all ten councils continue to work together to achieve the full benefits of devolved powers, and the associated financial support, available to Greater Lincolnshire.
“I am delighted that South Holland will continue having a seat at that table.”
What do you think? Email your views to email@example.com, tweet @LincsFreePress or comment on the story at spaldingtoday.co.uk or facebook.comLFPandSG