Extra powers from Government: Boston says yes
All ten Greater Lincolnshire councils agree - devolutions rolls forward
Greater Lincolnshire is on target to receive millions in funding and devolved powers from Government after Boston Borough Council was the last county authority to approve devolution proposals.
At an extraordinary meeting of the borough council on Thursday night all but one of the 18 councillors present voted in favour of proceeding with the devolution deal to establish a combined authority - the ten borough, district and city councils in Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire (Greater Lincolnshire) with a directly-elected mayor - in order to take full advantage of new powers.
The devolution agreement will mean important new powers and funding will be passed from the Government to the Greater Lincolnshire area.
The councils will continue to exist in their current form, but will also come together to exercise the new powers. The funding and responsibilities will include transport and housing. Further commitments are also agreed on health and social care. The aim is to ensure local accountability, making the new body answerable to the one million people in Greater Lincolnshire.
The new arrangements could boost the area's economy by £8 billion, create 29,000 jobs and provide 100,000 new homes. The combined authority will receive £15 million a year, for the next 30 years, for infrastructure projects to boost economic growth.
The funding will only be for new responsibilities and will not affect the current budget proposals recently agreed by each council.
The combined authority will be formed by the existing leaders of the ten local authorities, each having an equal single vote, and chaired by the directly-elected mayor, who will also have a single vote.
The mayor and the combined authority will be held to account by a scrutiny committee yet to be established.
Boston Borough Council leader, Cllr Peter Bedford, said: "All the other nine authorities in Greater Lincolnshire have approved these same papers. We are the last tonight to do so."
Cllr Paul Gleeson, who seconded Cllr Bedford's proposal to accept the combined authority with elected mayor option, said any new arrangement would require new structures.
He said: "We will, as a county, have more control over development and changes in the county. You cannot do that without structures. There will be an extra £15 million a year available to the county. It is better that we have a say in how things are spent and developed in our county than sent down from Whitehall
"An elected mayor is an extra level, but we need someone who is accountable to the people. It is sensible that our representatives are the elected leaders of the councils.
"This deal is a good deal for Lincolnshire. The Government will roll this out to other councils as years go by - this is the new model that Government wants."
Cllr Alison Austin said it was always good to be in at the beginning when something was new.
She said: "We just cannot lose out on this. We will be the smallest of the ten authorities but the vote of our leader will be equal to the vote of any of those other members representing authorities."
Cllr Bedford said: "Boston borough will have its equal share - it's the only way we can take Boston forward as part of the combined authority."
He said the elected mayor would only have precepting powers for the mayor's own office and any salary should not be any more than the highest-paid council leader in Lincolnshire and would be set by an independent review board.
Thursday night's agreement paves the way for further negotiations with Government for devolution to Greater Lincolnshire of further powers, responsibilities and resources.
There will be full consultation with the public starting at the end of June.