Counties to fight after 'secret' plans unearthed

Leaders of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire County Councils have expressed serious concerns over 'secret and underhand' plans by Nottingham and Derby City Councils.

The plans to create a ‘unified metropolitan area’ could see large areas of both counties – Amber Valley, Ashfield, Broxtowe, Derby, Erewash, Gedling, Nottingham, Rushcliffe and South Derbyshire – lumped together into a huge new authority.

Excluding Mansfield and Chesterfield from the plan.

Councillor Kay Cutts (Nottinghamshire) and Councillor Barry Lewis (Derbyshire) were informed about the plans for the first time yesterday (Thursday, November 16), days before the scheduled publication of the embargoed plan commissioned by the city council's.

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Coun Cutts said: “This is a bombshell and has come completely out of the blue for the County Council, sent to us just a matter of days before its official release. I have taken the decision, in the public interest, to release it into the public domain immediately.

“The report suggests that the City Council wishes to borrow millions of pounds in order to bring their plans to fruition, a most dangerous tactic.

"Despite regular contact between the county and city, there has been no discussion, no consultation and no suggestion from the City Council that this piece of work was being done. I feel let down – and so should the people of both counties and both cities. Only last week, I sat in the same room as the Chief Executive of Derby City and the Leader of Nottingham City at a D2N2 board meeting discussing a raft of joint economic initiatives, without any mention of this.

“The County Council raised concerns with the City Council back in September 2016, under the previous Labour administration when we were presented with a glossy document which had little substance. We asked for more clarity, we asked to be consulted. We got nothing.

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“In February this year our officers asked again for more information, more clarity and we asked to be involved. Again, we got nothing and have heard nothing until this report today.

“Residents living in the county should be alarmed by this plan – and not just because of the underhand way it has been put together or that it has cost £100,000 of public money to commission. The report highlights that people choose to live in the county because of better educational standards, greater access to services such as libraries, day centres and youth centres and the overall quality of services. This report puts those things at risk for hundreds of thousands of county residents.

“To add insult to injury this report describes Gedling, Rushcliffe and Broxtowe as ‘hinterlands’ – which means ‘the land behind’. Is that what the city think about our communities? I fear also for what it could mean for areas such as Bassetlaw, Mansfield and Newark and Sherwood which would be frozen out of this metro fantasy land.

“The report is misleading. The statistics are not based on Nottingham and Derby – they take in huge parts of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire to try and justify a flawed argument.

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“Tax payers have a right to have a say on any potential change of this magnitude. If the city are serious about taking over vast swathes of our county – turning communities like West Bridgford, Beeston and Hucknall into outer city limits – then the people deserve to know about it and be consulted.”

A spokesman from Nottingham City Council has said: “In April, Derby and Nottingham City Councils launched the Metro Strategy.

“We then asked Metro Dynamics to explore the potential of the Nottingham Derby economy The report, The Economic Case for the Derby-Nottingham Metro, is not due to be published until next week, at which point the two City Councils will review the findings, and of course work together with other council colleagues.

“As part of the development of the Metro Strategy, County Councils were consulted. We are happy to work with any councils that want to be involved in a coalition of the willing.”