Mansfield councillors want to ensure district authorities have ‘strong voice’ in devolution deal

Leaders on Mansfield Council have welcomed news lower-tier councils will retain a ‘strong voice’ in devolution discussions despite not having voting or veto powers on how negotiations progress.

By Andrew Topping
Thursday, 19th May 2022, 10:56 am

Upper-tier councils in the East Midlands – including Nottinghamshire – are negotiating at present about receiving devolved powers and funding from Whitehall.

It follows the region being named as a pilot area for the Government’s new ‘County Deal’, with the strongest level of devolution to see a combined authority of the upper-tier councils and potentially an elected mayor.

Lower-tier councils would be non-constituent members, meaning they have no decision-making powers on major projects.

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Andy Abrahams, Mansfield mayor.

However, the combined authority would be expected to work closely with district councils and to use their knowledge and expertise when deciding how to spend funding.

It was confirmed last month the four upper-tier authorities – Nottinghamshire, Nottingham, Derbyshire and Derby councils – are negotiating for the full devolution package, meaning a combined authority and elected mayor are expected.

Councils within Nottinghamshire have been setting out plans for the deal during meetings of the economic prosperity committee, which has representatives from all nine councils across the county.

Andy Abrahams, Mansfield mayor, Mansfield Council’s representative, told councillors they will have a voice at the negotiating table and negotiations are expected to be complete by autumn.

He said: “District councils do not have the power of veto and therefore it is vital this council maintains an active role in the committee, in order to influence a deal.

“This is so Mansfield and the districts can compete with other combined authorities.”

The news was welcomed by Coun Martin Wright, of the Mansfield Independents opposition group, who said he would ‘rather we be at the table than not’.

He said: “It’s far better to be in looking out than being out looking in.

“If we’re at the table, we can make comments, even if we can’t veto anything.

“It’s going to happen whether we like it or not, so I’d rather we are at the table than not be.”

Mr Abrahams said: “The East Midlands has suffered from decades of under-investment and we have to take this opportunity to try to level up our areas.

“With district councils retaining a strong voice at the table, we’re going to make sure the money comes to the right areas.”

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