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Calls for council to rule out tax increase if a mayor is elected

Nottinghamshire County Council is being asked to rule out a tax increase if a regional mayor is elected in the East Midlands.

Local authorities have sent off initial proposals to the Government for the creation of a Combined Authority of Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Councils.

Both counties and cities were confirmed in the Government’s pilot for devolution ‘county deals’, which could see more powers being handed over to the East Midlands by the Government.

The new project could give councils more powers to have a say in healthcare, public transport, education and skills, strategic planning and public safety services.

Areas can get the most powers available if a directly-elected political mayor is in place.

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Ahead of a Nottinghamshire County Council meeting next week, the Independent Alliance group has put forward a motion asking the council to oppose the introduction of a ‘mayoral precept’, a form of added council tax.

The group says in Greater Manchester – led by Mayor Andy Burnham (Lab) – the mayoral precept cost ranges from £68.63 for a Band A property, £102.95 for a Band D (median average) property and £205.90 for a Band G property.

This includes funding for the fire service.

But Ben Bradley MP (Con), leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, says he doesn’t feel any tax rises would be necessary if the area adopts an elected mayor system.

The motion will be debated at Nottinghamshire County Council’s full council meeting on Thursday, July 7.

Councillor Francis Purdue-Horan (Ind) said people in Nottinghamshire have told him they “couldn’t care less” about a new mayor.

He said: “We are meeting a lot of concerns about the cost of living. We’ve got to realise that they are discussing an additional layer of bureaucracy that may cost money.

“I get the impression that there’s a blasé approach to costs.

“I hope I can get some sort of indication that Nottinghamshire County Council does not wish to add another cost to hard pressed council taxpayers.

“The real stories are coming from people who have got young families and it is terrible to listen to.

“The East Midlands deserves a better crack of the whip but I don’t want us to lose the perspective that we are in a very difficult economic period.”

Councillor David Martin (Ind) will second the motion.

Cllr Martin added: “Whilst I welcome attempts to address decades-long, chronic underfunding in the East Midlands from successive Labour and Conservative Governments – this must not come with a rise in bills.”

Ben Bradley MP leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “If the proposals are agreed, we would get new regional powers and funding. It would mean more money for services in our region, more major decisions being made in the East Midlands, nearer to the people they affect, rather than in London, and a bigger voice for our area.

“In our initial bid to the government, we have asked for everything that is potentially on offer, as we don’t want to rule anything out at this early stage in the negotiations. However, of the nine existing mayoral combined authorities, eight have this power, but only two have ever actually used it – Liverpool and Manchester.

“I’ve already been very clear that I don’t want to see any tax rises as a result of this, that I wouldn’t support tax rises, and that I don’t feel they are necessary. In fact I think that the support and additional finance that could come through this plan could help us to keep local taxes down.

“Of course, nobody can promise now what a future Mayor may or may not do years in to the future, but I can be absolutely clear that there are no plans to raise any additional taxes as a result of this devolution proposal. I have already said I would not support such a proposal.”

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