A devolution deal for Greater Lincolnshire has been proposed in the Chancellor’s autumn statement. We take a look at difference this could mean for residents in North Lincolnshire and answer frequently asked questions
What is devolution and how does it work?
Devolution sees central Government transfer powers and money to regions across the country. This allows people who know their areas best to decide where money is spent.
This is already happening in Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, the Tees Valley and more recently, North Yorkshire. Devolution involves the creation of combined authorities – legal bodies that bring councils together to decide on agreed issues that cross boundaries.
Does this mean a merger of councils?
No. The three councils (Lincolnshire County Council and North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire Councils) and the seven district councils (East and West Lindsey, North and South Kesteven, Boston Borough Council, City of Lincoln Council and South Holland District Council) will work together with a mayor on projects and schemes which cross traditional council boundaries.
So, what is different and how would this improve things in Greater Lincolnshire?
A new set up would grow over time. For example, a deal in the first year would see money and control handed down in areas such as transport, skills and training, homes and communities, economic growth, and the environment. That will expand as the deal matures with more control of finances and power agreed with Government.
How does a combined authority work?
A combined authority has a board made up of representatives from councils, representatives from business and the Police and Crime Commissioner to ensure a fair allocation of funding. This is more efficient than 10 different councils having to go to 20 different Government departments.
What does an elected mayor have to do with all of this?
The best deals come with a mayor – it is the very best way to ensure greater control over future local decisions and brings with it the most power and most money because it brings with it the greatest accountability. This person would be elected on four-year terms and be accountable to residents and ensure a stronger voice locally, nationally and globally for Greater Lincolnshire.
An elected mayor is not a replacement for the civic mayors or chairs, which are ceremonial roles, it is more like the US city mayors.
Will this mean extra bureaucracy and higher costs to taxpayers?
No. It will bring more money and power to Greater Lincolnshire.
Could deals be scrapped if the Government changes?
Setting up a combined authority requires legislation to be passed.
Part of any deal would commit the Government legally to longer-term funding provision, including a 30-year investment funding allocation. Both leading parties have also committed to the principle of devolution.
What happens next?
The three councils will approve the deal and the proposal ahead of the formal consultation which is scheduled to last eight weeks.
People will be able to access the full deal text, the proposal and further information about the impact on the councils’ websites.
A series of events are scheduled to take place across the area too, if the councils approve the proposal, so residents can go along to find out more. Further details about the consultation will be published.