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Sunday, 29 November 2020

SuperCouncil: East Midlands Council Leaders explore new strategic alliance

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The Leaders of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Lincolnshire have agreed to explore a Strategic Alliance that would create a unified voice for the region. Labour group Alan Rhodes says the idea of a ‘super council’ is ‘simply ridiculous.’

This would be a first step in an ambitious journey towards a future devolution deal, discussed by the Leaders of the four county councils, that would help boost the East Midlands’ economy.

In a joint statement, the County Council Leaders of Derbyshire (Councillor Barry Lewis), Leicestershire (Councillor Nick Rushton), Lincolnshire (Councillor Martin Hill) and Nottinghamshire (Councillor Kay Cutts) said:

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“We believe that we can achieve much more if we work together, particularly in the areas of connectivity, trade, investment and growth. A recent East Midlands Councils report showed that people in our area get the lowest Government spending on economic development and transport in the country, with rail expenditure in the region at just £91 per person, compared to £746 per person in London. This will remain the case unless we join forces and make our voice heard.

“We want to work together to grow our economy so that we build on our strengths and tackle our challenges. We would work with our LEPs and Chambers, and would be complementary to the Midlands Engine.

“The next stage in the plans will be to have further detailed talks to see how we can take the Strategic Alliance forward with a view to eventually being able to draw down powers and funding from Government.”

The Strategic Alliance, which would include the four counties along with the cities of Derby, Leicester and Nottingham, the Local Enterprise Partnerships and Chambers of Commerce, would focus on transport, infrastructure, jobs and strategic planning. This would ensure the East Midlands comes together to support the wider aims of the Midlands Engine and the Industrial Strategy as the Country moves towards Brexit.

The Leader of the Labour Group at Nottinghamshire County Council has described the idea of a four county super council as ‘simply ridiculous and not in the best interests of our Nottinghamshire communities’.

His response was to the recent revelation that Nottinghamshire’s current Conservative administration has been in talks with Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Derbyshire with a view to establishing a four counties ‘super- council’. 

Councillor Kay Cutts, Leader of the Council at Nottinghamshire, had previously been asked her position in January of this year at full council, and stated that she intended to present proposals for a unitary model of local government for Nottinghamshire. 

Commenting on these discussions, Councillor Alan Rhodes said

“Labour is completely opposed to the creation of a so called ‘super council’ between the counties of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Lincolnshire. Geographically the area is far too big, and the idea of such remote governance would not only destroy the identity of our Nottinghamshire towns and villages but would also mean the end of local decision making”.

Councillor Rhodes also confirmed that Labour would continue to press for more information on these proposals, and ask Councillor Cutts to provide an approximate timeline for any such merger to take place.

“Given that these talks will impact on all of the borough and district councils, and consequently on how our frontline services will be delivered in the future to residents across Nottinghamshire, it is incumbent on Councillor Cutts to keep all members informed about this issue and to ensure that appropriate discussions and consultations are held with everyone affected”.