The Leader of Bassetlaw District Council is calling on local leaders to revisit proposals for an East Midlands devolution deal to ensure that the region does not get short-changed.
At a meeting of Bassetlaw’s full Council held at the beginning of March, Cllr James Naish raised concerns about the proposed devolution deal, including the amount of funding being made available to the East Midlands versus other parts of the country. The deal proposes that, through the creation of a Mayor for the East Midlands, more control of Government funding would be given to local regions in areas such as transport, the environment and public health.
A £1.14bn settlement covering the whole of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire has been proposed. But Cllr Naish says this is not good enough and is asking the leaders of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Nottingham City and Derby City to write to the Government to ask for more.
“The figures presented to the public sound significant on paper but they are less than many other combined authorities will be receiving,” said Cllr Naish.
“Based on a population of 2.207 million people in the nominated areas, £1.14bn represents £516 per person. This is significantly less when compared with the North East at £731 per person, York and North Yorkshire at £660 per person, and Norfolk at £655 per person. We want the leaders of our large local authorities to go back to the Government and secure a more favourable deal for Bassetlaw residents and businesses before agreeing to the current offer.”
A week after the full Council meeting on 2nd March, the results from an eight-week consultation period on the devolution deal were revealed. The consultation took place between November 2022 and January 2023, and drew responses from 4,869 residents, businesses, community and voluntary groups.
The majority of respondents – between 51% and 53% – agreed with the devolution deal proposals for transport, skills, the environment and public health, with between 32% and 33% disagreeing. However, 45% of respondents disagreed with the proposals for governance which included the appointment of a regional mayor, with only 42% agreeing.
Cllr Alan Rhodes, Ward Member for Worksop North East, backed the Leader’s concerns and asked him to write to the four leaders of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Derby and Nottingham, calling on them to be bolder in their vision for the East Midlands combined authority.
Cllr Rhodes, who in principle supports the notion of greater control for local leaders, said: “I fully recognise, as do most councillors, the value of moving existing funding and powers from London directly to the East Midlands, giving local voices a greater role in the decision-making process. I welcome the broad principles of the deal.
“However, I also have concerns about some of the specifics as do thousands of consultation respondents. I want senior leaders to re-think key parts of the deal before it’s fully signed-off.”
Some of the key concerns raised by local councillors and consultation respondents include the potential for the new mayoral authority to replace the current functions of District and Parish Councils; the lack of voting rights for District Councils in any established Combined County Authority; the potential for council tax rises to be used to fund the new Authority; and the lack of guarantee about the Combined County Authority’s funding being linked to inflation.
Based on current timelines, the deal is expected to be finalised in 2023 before the first mayoral elections take place in May 2024.
Last Updated on Tuesday, April 4, 2023