In some ways, it’s sad that Lincolnshire’s devolution bid failed.
It did have potential, but there were far too many ways it could all have gone wrong. For that reason, we may well have had a lucky escape.
Once established, the new authority could easily have been converted into a single over-riding organisation that effectively removed democracy from local areas and transferred it to Lincoln.
The insistence on an elected mayor was a clear indication of this possibility.
In my opinion, it was an attempt by the Government to cut central costs and shed itself of responsibility.
It was quickly taken up by Conservative-run councils, no doubt under pressure to deliver it.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a free lunch.
In the end, the bid failed and I can’t help wondering just how much this exercise has cost ratepayers throughout Lincolnshire.
Taking into account the time spent by council officers and portfolio holders across 10 authorities, including trips to London, costs of employment, printing, expenses, endless meetings, public consultations and other costs, this was not a cheap exercise.
While the collapse of the bid was not the fault of South Holland District Council, we did back that failure, it was a waste of money and all the participating councils do bear responsibility.
They could have simply said “no thanks” to start with.
I have asked the district council to realistically estimate how much was spent on the bid – it would be interesting to see how much the county council spent, too.
After all, the county council had the most influence to lose and did precipitate the failure.
We have to help pay for its costs as well. I hope to have the figures soon.