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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Gedling Borough Council joins with local authorities across Notts to seek deal for devolution

The nine Nottinghamshire local authorities say they are working together to tackle a series of issues relating to the county’s economy, as well as plans to address climate change.

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Councils across Nottinghamshire have revealed their vision in seeking a devolved ‘county deal’ from Whitehall.

The nine Nottinghamshire local authorities say they are working together to tackle a series of issues relating to the county’s economy, as well as plans to address climate change.

They intend to seek devolution from the Government, which would bring “much-needed investment” into the county and grant more decision-making powers on important, council-led issues.

It comes as part of the Conservative Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda, with ministers revealing an intention to offer more options of devolution to local authorities.

Devolution hands more power on issues including healthcare, transport, planning and development, and brings investment from Government to spend on localised projects.

A document released ahead of a key cross-council meeting next week has set out the plan for a Nottinghamshire deal, with the councils revealing their vision to “improve the lives of all Nottingham and Nottinghamshire residents”.

The bid is hooked on five priority areas, including education and skills, transport, land and housing, economy and infrastructure, and the environment.

The councils plan to increase skill levels and create a better-equipped workforce, create more support into employment and accelerate actions in the Government’s Skills for Jobs white paper.

Better public transport, walking and cycling are also on the agenda, alongside improved infrastructure and connectivity countywide.

To address issues with the environment, the councils will look to maximise investment into green and blue infrastructure, create improved waste management services for residents, support woodland and biodiversity, invest in flood alleviation and accelerate net-zero carbon emission targets.

There are plans for a more “coordinated investment” in the county’s wider infrastructure, for towns and the city to be regenerated, to increase full-fibre and 5G connectivity, support businesses to work “faster and more efficiently”, and to utilise the East Midlands Development Corporation to provide more inward investment.

The councils also plan to offer more affordable housing and to reduce social isolation and health and social care costs.

It comes alongside the priority of the visitor economy and heritage, support for youth services and adolescents, investment in community safety, and public sector ‘reform’.

However, the document states this does not require “additional tiers of government or the creation of a regional or local mayor”. It does not, however, specifically rule out local government reorganisation.

County Hall Nottingham
PICTURED: County Hall

Key council leaders will discuss the plans at a meeting of the City of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Economic Prosperity Committee, on Friday, October 29.

This committee will be used to drive forward investment plans and guide the bid for devolution moving forward.

Councillor Ben Bradley MP (Con), leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “The right devolution deal would enable us to deliver economic and social prosperity across our city and county.

“We would use any powers to grow the private sector by attracting investment in jobs and make sure the skills needed to match the sectors that invest in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

“The long-term result would be to create jobs, raise living standards and restore local pride. Devolution is also an opportunity to improve public services.”

Cllr David Mellen (Lab), leader of Nottingham City Council, added: “Local leaders want what’s best for local people and we share common ground on a number of key issues.

“The challenges we face are immense, and partnership and collaboration are critical to improving both the long-term future of communities and the day to day lives and prospects of local people.”

The document states all nine councils are on board with the plans, with more detailed plans to be formulated in the coming months.

It is expected to draw off other plans, including the East Midlands Freeport proposals and whichever form HS2 takes in the region.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service reported in August how some leaders and academics were sceptical of a potential devolution deal.

Council officials were urged to make sure it was “done right” and maximised opportunities for “all corners” of Nottinghamshire, including areas such as Bassetlaw which has closer ties to the South Yorkshire region.

The documents state councils will seek the support of other partners, including Nottinghamshire Police, the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, local universities and the NHS, to implement and guide a potential devolution package.

There are also plans to work with neighbouring counties, including Derbyshire and Leicestershire, to encourage further devolution and “work in a complementary way” on inter-county projects.

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