Special Full Council 17/11/15 – Devolution Slight Pause

Special Full Council 17/11/15 – Devolution Slight Pause ; At the recent full council meeting to consider the progress towards developing a devolution deal for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, the Labour group after considering the information available so far, took the view to abstain on the motion that was under consideration, not because we don’t support the proposals – but more because at current, we have concerns with the way the process / proposals have changed from the original starting point, and as I commented in my remarks (the introduction is posted below) to the meeting the direction of travel, seem to have gone away from the local choice and determination of what additional powers may work best for your local area to a framework of items as directed by government.

“Mr Mayor,

I don’t wish to take up too much time at this interim stage of moving towards a devolution deal and whilst the Labour Group will not be objecting to tonight’s recommendation to continue the process of talking – we do have some concerns around the process and particularly the stance from government that talks of local choice and local determination – but in a similar way to the oft talked about localism especially in planning in the governments previous term – there is local choice and determination but only as long as it fits with the governments views and requirements

I understand from last weeks briefing that there were hopes it would be signed before George Osborne’s Autumn Statement on November 25 but the stance from Erewash Borough Council & South Derbyshire District Council on holding off from voting on whether to join the deal, along with comments from several of the areas MPs means this is unlikely

Like I’m sure with many within the room and outside I have huge concerns about the imposition to get the deal of an elected mayor, and what powers and functions they control – and particularly the concerns that this may lead to a back door merger of our police with the expectation of the PCC (Police and Crime Commissioner) role been one of the potential powers and I find myself in rare agreement with the Con Mp for Broxtowe Anna Soubry who said: “There are huge benefits for all of us economically but the problem has been about the role of the elected mayor.
“I’m finding it difficult to understand how we have an elected mayor for the whole of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. What do we call this mayor and how will ordinary people identify with them?”

I then moved on to consider concerns around the governance arrangements for the combined authority and particularly how will scrutiny of the arrangements and in particular the mayor work, along with concerns around the housing and funding arrangements that may come under the control of the elected Mayor, along with the particular concern to us in the High Peak of ensuring that the proposals need to strengthen our hand in working with Greater Manchester.

The proposals to form a combined authority are ones, which will be the subject of much discussion over the coming weeks and months ahead, and the vote at the council meeting, provided a place for us to flag those concerns to ensure that the voice of the High Peak will be heard in whatever arrangements we end up, and to make clear that whilst we support the idea of bringing more powers under local control, it has to be the right deal for us all.