Joint statement by District Council Leaders
Lincolnshire’s seven District Councils have put forward their suggested timeframe for a review of local governance arrangements within the County, after it was announced this week that Lincolnshire may be invited to bid for local government reorganisation later this year as part of a devolution package.
The move to restructure the County’s governance has been led by Lincolnshire County Council, with support from Lincolnshire’s two existing unitary authorities. This is the second time in recent years that a devolution deal for Lincolnshire has been considered, with the County Council choosing not to progress plans for a mayoral combined authority in 2016.
The Districts have, however, expressed their disappointment with the lack of engagement and consultation so far. Lincolnshire councils will be invited to submit a bid for reorganisation and devolution potentially as early as September this year, and should it be accepted, all of Lincolnshire’s Councils would be disbanded in 2022.
In a letter to the Minster for Growth and Local Government, Simon Clarke MP, which followed a meeting earlier in the week, District Council Leaders have raised a number of concerns about the proposed approach, including the rapid timeframe for implementation and the need for sufficient time for meaningful consultation.
The Districts believe that this approach to implementation is less likely to be successful and feel the lack of consultation prior to the submission of a bid means the proposals do not take into account the County’s complex physical, economic and social geography – which must be at the heart of any reorganisation.
The Districts have proposed an approach that seeks to scale up local government within the County; increasing its capacity to significantly boost economic growth, address the most pressing social issues and promote the more effective stewardship of environmental resources. The Districts would first seek to undertake a comprehensive scoping exercise that identifies what a successful, enduring reorganisation would look like. This would then allow the proposals to be implemented in 2023; in replacement of the scheduled elections to the existing authorities.
Cllr Paul Skinner, Leader of Boston Borough Council, said:
“Devolution is clearly part of the Government agenda. We need to work together with other districts to make sure this is fit for purpose for the whole of Lincolnshire. We have been told that some of the monies we haven’t been getting into the Borough of Boston and Lincolnshire will become available to us as part of this deal. I believe there is no immediate rush to complete this deal, we need to work together and make sure we get it right for the people of Lincolnshire”