Lincolnshire could become a Combined Authority with just one Mayor under new plans
A devolution settlement with the government could see three Lincolnshire councils combine as one authority in the next few years.
This could also introduce a mayoral combined authority in 2025 but the three unitary authorities of North Lincolnshire Council, North East Lincolnshire Council, and Lincolnshire County Council must first each get their councillors’ approval.
North Lincolnshire is the first to set out ‘A Devolution Deal for North Lincolnshire’ item on its agenda for full council on Monday, December 5.
The council has published the draft prospectus for a Greater Lincolnshire devolution deal as councillors will be asked to support “draft proposals for devolution for Greater Lincolnshire and to enter into negotiations with government to seek a devolution deal at the earliest opportunity”.
Should councillors approve they will have opportunity to consider progress at a number of decision-making stages including to consult on a draft devolution deal after negotiations with government, and the final deal and whether to establish a mayoral combined authority.
If negotiations are successful, Greater Lincolnshire’s electorate would be asked to elect a mayor of the new combined authority in 2025.
The draft devolution prospectus says: “As there is currently no one democratic body that covers our economic area we will seek to establish a county combined authority as a strong and accountable model of leadership for levelling up Greater Lincolnshire, including an elected mayor if this is a requirement in the final legislation.”
Cllr Rob Waltham, leader of North Lincolnshire Council, said: “The pace continues to increase in government regards devolution and, in addition to the combined authorities already agreed for cities, we know there are firm proposals for counties. It is clear that devolution is their vehicle for extra investment in local areas and we are moving forward together to secure that for people here – it will have a direct, positive impact on the lives of everyone across the whole county.”
The proposals also include seeking money for a Greater Lincolnshire Investment Fund, a single, long-term investment fund over 30 years.
Other devolution power priorities and asks for Greater Lincolnshire outlined in the draft prospectus include:
- More powers to deliver electric vehicle (EV) charging, including to rural areas
- A multi-year transport infrastructure package of funding to be devolved to local leaders to support the delivery of a Joint Local Transport Plan
- Moves to a guaranteed minimum level of rail service provision in Greater Lincolnshire
- A fully devolved adult education budget with funding for a two year transition period
- The piloting of four innovation technology centres, including one for advanced manufacturing in Scunthorpe
- Enhanced local level powers to be able to improve the standards of the over 90,000 private sector homes lived in across Lincolnshire
The prospectus is described as “a guiding light” rather than a plan and is also acknowledged to not be “perfect or something that has all the answers”.
Devolution negotiations will be led by the three upper tier authorities of North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire and Lincolnshire County Councils. If approved negotiations would be expected to begin next year.