Government re-commits to devolution progress in Nottinghamshire following change of PM

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A minister has reiterated the Government’s commitment to supporting a devolution deal to “empower” the region.

However, a shake-up in Government led to Rishi Sunak becoming Prime Minister in October – and there was then silence over the plans, which would create a single elected mayor across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

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However, a fresh commitment has now been made to the deal, which involves some key powers and funding transferring to politicians from Whitehall.

Representatives at the devolution update meeting.Representatives at the devolution update meeting.
Representatives at the devolution update meeting.

Political leaders, businesses and healthcare officials met in Nottingham to discuss the plans, which are under consultation until January – more than 2,000 people have filled in a questionnaire on them so far.

Lee Rowley, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities parliamentary under-secretary, committed his support to the devolution deal at the event.

He said: “As North East Derbyshire MP for five-and-a-half years, I know how much good work goes on across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire on a daily basis.

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“We know there is more that can be done and the opportunities to do more are ones we should consider.

“We have an unrivalled geographical position in our country, brilliant transport links, and fantastic entrepreneurial companies.

“From a government perspective, we want to work with you to unleash that potential. We are serious about wanting to empower the East Midlands.”

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Coun David Mellen, Nottingham Council leader, said the East Midlands has been left behind “for too long”.

He said: “I’m interested in what we can get for the people of Nottingham and the region.

“It’s not perfect, we’d like more money, but we’re out of that stream for more money all together at the moment, so let’s get into that stream.

“I encourage people who don’t completely understand what is being offered, to go on the website for the consultation and respond.”

Some concerns have been raised the deal could come with a mayoral precept, increasing council tax.

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However, Coun Ben Bradley, Nottinghamshire Council leader and Mansfield MP, said: “The deal comes with the power to have a mayoral precept, but few combined authorities have done that in practice.

“Nottinghamshire Council passed a formal decision we won’t do that.

“I understand people’s different views about a mayor, it has its pros and cons.The pros are a clear voice for our region which has worked for other places.”

Coun Jason Zadrozny, Ashfield Council leader, welcomed localised decision making, but added: “That said, it must not come with rising Council Tax bills.

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“We are encouraging people to back devolution with the caveat bills won’t rise. It’s not the hard-pressed resident’s fault that the East Midlands has been significantly underfunded by successive Tory and Labour Governments.”