Mayor or no Mayor, that is the Question for Lincolnshire, right now.
I’m Marianne Overton, National Leader of the Independents and local Leader of the Lincolnshire Independents. Let me talk to you about the new so-called “devo deal” for Lincolnshire. Your voice is needed as the petition is out now.
- Bureaucracy and Costs: The proposed whole new combined authority with a Mayor adds unnecessary bureaucracy and costs, with initial setup, estimated at £2m, audit, scrutiny, committees, the lot, all with ongoing tax increases on top of our current layers of local Government. And another row of tax on your council tax bill, and on business rates, should they choose to raise it.
- Is the money enough?: The offered funds are substantial, but NOT when compared to our current spend. On the County Council alone, we invest £1.1bn every year and are currently spending £360m on road developments. Having a mayor means a similar or smaller sum, but depreciating over the next 30 years.
- What is the risk of saying “no”? We voted this down before. despite dire warnings, our County still got hundreds of millions for roads, because of the “economic development” including new housing that it brings. It’s a good business case that attracts the money, not a Mayor.
- Where the money would go: Government-proposed funds for economic development seem unlikely to be focussed on our needs, here is Lincolnshire. Focus falls to the north and north-east with failed industries and a new free port planned. Housing and 38,000 acres of industrial solar developments are already in progress here. We need better services instead. Transport is currently managed by the County Council, and £36bn is on the way to the Midlands, from the failed HS2 extension. We want it in the hands of our elected Councils as they are, not to a just a few, with a new Mayor.
- Influence and Size: The sheer size of the proposed area (10 councils over 7,000 sq km) makes it challenging for us to influence decisions for local benefit. Our current democracy with local representatives ensures better representation.
- Democratic Deficit: The proposed decision-making structure favours Leaders of just three councils, Lincolnshire County, North and North-east Lincolnshire plus a few who they can influence. This limits the influence of the wider political mix of councillors, creating a loss of democracy.
- Efficiency Concerns: Research indicates that larger local authorities are not more efficient nor more effective. This is backed by professional studies like “Bigger is not better” and “Bigger is still not bigger”.
In conclusion, the proposed deal adds an unnecessary extra layer of bureaucracy, with a tax-raising Mayor, and a loss of our local voices. The funds are little or no more than we expect to get already. The Mayor will have a different agenda, based on the government’s focus to increase tax from economic development. This takes the decisions away from our Councils and into very few hands, with priorities of their own. Instead, we need that power and money brought down into our councils as they are. Let’s put our existing local democracy first and make our voices heard by saying “No” to a Mayor by signing the petition.
Thank you for listening and please let me know what you think. www.lincolnshireindependents.org.uk firstname.lastname@example.org (County Council Consultation closed Jan29th )