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Results of consultation on Lincolnshire devolution show 60% are against additional governance and mayor





Greater Lincolnshire’s devolution deal has sparked a wave of local scepticism - with a recent consultation revealing that a significant 60% of participants are against the idea of additional governance layers particularly the introduction of an elected regional mayor.

Despite the allure of a £24 million annual budget for the next three decades, the prospect of a new mayoral authority has left residents and local leaders alike questioning the real benefits versus the perceived bureaucracy.

Just over 4,000 people weigh in – a mere 0.31% of the region’s population took part in the consultation, which closed in February. Lincolnshire County Council has championed this as a record-breaking response compared to other regions but critics argue it barely scratches the surface of public opinion.

Parliamentary Under Secretary State of Levelling Up Jacob Young, North East Lincolnshire Council Leader Coun Philip Jackson, Coun Martin Hill OBE
Parliamentary Under Secretary State of Levelling Up Jacob Young, North East Lincolnshire Council Leader Coun Philip Jackson, Coun Martin Hill OBE

The consultation feedback was clear: while there’s support for boosting business, education, housing, and the environment, the governance model – particularly the mayoral role – faced the stiffest opposition. Suggestions even floated renaming the role to “county governor” to avoid confusion with existing local mayors.

Residents also highlighted the need for better support in special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), social care, town centre rejuvenation, tourism, and public transport.

Yet, despite these constructive suggestions, the consultation’s framing and questions have come under fire from district council leaders for not accurately reflecting the community’s voice.

West Lindsey Council leader Trevor Young
West Lindsey Council leader Trevor Young

This comes primarily from the introduction of an elected mayor for the region, with Lincolnshire County Council joining with North and North East Lincolnshire to form a new combined mayoral authority.

Despite Lincolnshire County Council’s report pointing to local media reports as a factor for possible negative consultation responses, it was in fact politicians of all coloured rosettes, at all levels of local government, who spoke against the deal.

Primary concerns from local district council leaders focused on the wording of the consultation questions, with multiple authority leaders saying it failed to offer “fair, accurate and proportionate” views of residents.

Coun Martin Hill, leader of Lincolnshire County Council
Coun Martin Hill, leader of Lincolnshire County Council

Whether it was the Liberal Democrat leader of West Lindsey District Council, Trevor Young, who said an elected mayor would “do nothing but add another layer of bureaucracy” in the county, or independent Boston Borough Council leader Anne Dorrian, who called for a “straight yes or no referendum,” reservations were held across the local government landscape.

This was one of the most common themes of feedback in the consultation, with residents arguing “an online survey of such limited scope” does not sufficiently tackle the concerns residents might have around possible devolution.

In fact, even Conservative MPs spoke out against the Conservative Lincolnshire County Council’s devolution consultation — including Gainsborough’s Sir Edward Leigh, who claimed the questions were “artfully phrased” to gain a desired response.

The idea of a mayor for was a dealbreaker for Lincolnshire County Council back in 2016, when the first devolution deal was floated. But a similar consultation, with a similar 4,000 responses, rejected the mayor idea, with all local councils ultimately deciding to abandon the idea.

However, eight years later, Lincolnshire County Council’s leader Martin Hill stressed that this devolution deal is one of exciting possibilities for the region of Greater Lincolnshire.

He said: “All three councils see this as a great opportunity to be the masters of our own destiny and not be left behind when it comes to government investment.”

The new Mayoral Combined County Authority would be chaired by a Greater Lincolnshire mayor, who will serve four-year terms, and includes the three upper-tier local authorities (Lincolnshire County Council, North Lincolnshire Council, North East Lincolnshire Council), as well as representatives from the seven existing district councils, the local health board and the Lincolnshire Police & Crime Commissioner’s office.

Coun Hill also reiterated that the mayor was a “requirement” of the devolution deal, and the council will be bringing in “mayoral question time sessions” for the public in response to the negative consultation responses. He says this will serve as a way for the public to “directly scrutinise” the combined authority’s work.

Final decisions will be taken by the leaders of Lincolnshire County Council, North East Lincolnshire Council and North Lincolnshire at respective meetings on March 13, 14 and 15.

The authorities are recommended to proceed with final submission of the devolution proposal — despite concerns around the mayoral authority position found within the consultation.

What do you think? Post a comment below.



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