Nottinghamshire leaders outline devolution plans

Nottingham City Council's Loxley House HQ

Leaders from the nine councils in Nottinghamshire have set out their ambitious joint vision for devolved powers to improve investment in the economy.

In a paper to the joint City of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Economic Prosperity Committee, councils have outlined how they would work in partnership to help boost economic investment, improve the environment, and tackle health and educational inequalities across the city and county.

Nottingham and Nottinghamshire are aiming to be one of the Government’s pathfinder sites for devolution deals, the details of which will be outlined in the much anticipated ‘levelling-up’ white paper expected this autumn.

If a deal was to be agreed, powers would be handed equally to Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council to work in partnership with district councils to take responsibility from the government over major decisions and services that affect people in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

If successful, a devolution deal could result in extra powers and money from  government to deliver a county and city-wide approach to improve investment in education and skills, transport  and the environment, the economy and infrastructure, land and housing , health and social care, youth services and support to vulnerable young people and potentially much more.

Extra powers could also be gained to deliver community safety, tourism, and heritage, as well as better control over regulatory powers.

Any devolution deal would not affect the status of the local councils who would continue to provide local services to their residents.

Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council Ben Bradley, MP said: “Councils in Nottinghamshire serve 1.1 million people. So many decisions that impact on their lives are decided in Westminster. This is our opportunity to bring those decisions closer to home, so they reflect the needs and ambitions of local businesses and communities here in the city and county, rather than 130 miles away.

“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 match the sectors that invest in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. The long-term result would be to create jobs, raise living standards and to restore local pride. Devolution is also an opportunity to improve public services.

“Levelling up is not just about concrete infrastructure projects such as roads and rail. It needs to go hand in hand with improvements in the conditions for good quality health and education to improve the life chances of people in areas previously underfunded. This could transform the lives of people across Nottinghamshire.”

The government has invited council leaders from areas across the country to show how they can work jointly on the new ‘levelling-up’ agenda, its initiative to make sure every area of the country has the powers and resources needed to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and achieve economic growth and prosperity.

Cllr David Mellen, leader of Nottingham City Council, said: “It’s important that councils across Nottinghamshire work together to make the most of the possible opportunities that a devolution deal would represent to bring more investment, jobs and prosperity to the region and address the significant underfunding we have seen over many years.

“Local leaders want what’s best for local people and we share common ground on a number of key issues.

“It’s still really early days but the themes and priorities are emerging with a focus on transport and infrastructure, skills and employment, and climate change.

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

Cllr David Lloyd, leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: “We have already proven here in Nottinghamshire how well we can work together when we want to improve the lives of residents – whether it was supporting vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic or supporting communities impacted by flooding. A successful devolution deal that delivers real change would be a vote of confidence in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire and I believe we have all the right conditions to put a strong case to government that we are serious about working together to benefit our communities.”

Council leaders will consider a report at the next Economic Prosperity Committee to be held at 9am on Friday 29 October.

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