Agenda item

East Midlands Devolution Deal

The report of the Chief Executive is attached.


The Leader and Portfolio Holder for Strategic and Borough-wide Leadership, Councillor Clarke presented the report of the Chief Executive, providing an update on the progress of the East Midlands Mayoral Combined County Authority, following the passing of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act.


In moving the recommendation, the Leader referred to the importance of this issue not just for the four upper tier authorities but for the borough and district authorities too, and referred to the significant benefits that it would bring, including additional investment to the region.  The Combined County Authority would also give a single voice, making it easier to focus, which was important given that there were 15 separate borough and district authorities in the region, as well as the four upper tier authorities.  Council noted that there would be four borough and district representatives on the Executive Leaders Group, two from Nottinghamshire and two from Derbyshire, to ensure that local opinions were voiced. The Leader reiterated that this would bring £4billion additional investment to the region, to improve infrastructure and services and that this would be the first time that all authorities worked together.  The Leader thanked officers for their hard work in bringing this forward, confirmed that it had been approved by the four upper tier authorities and stated that it was important that Rushcliffe was involved, to take advantage of the many benefits going forward, including an integrated transport system.


Councillor Brennanseconded the recommendation and reserved the right to speak.


Councillor Grocock advised that the Labour Group would be supporting the recommendation, the ongoing engagement and involvement of Rushcliffe in this process and the delivery of the associated benefits. Councillor Grocock referred to the complexity and inconsistency of devolution across the country, with the East Midlands being a pilot for this Combined County Authority.  Councillor Grocock felt that the patchwork of devolution arrangements across the country was a result of a lack of commitment by successive Governments to deliver a consistent approach, and that no advanced western economy had the regional disparities in socio-economic opportunity as experienced in the UK.  Despite those concerns, Councillor Grocock stated that there were many positives to take from this deal, and that the key question was how Rushcliffe could make the most of this and play its part.  Councillor Grocock noted the proposed membership of the Executive Leaders Group, which was made up of four Labour councillors.  Councillor Grocock hoped that going forward everyone would collaborate to find common ground and deliver for the residents of Rushcliffe, by recognising the role that it could play regionally as a locus for inward investment, and associated benefits.


Councillor R Mallender stated that devolution in the East Midlands was long overdue, and advised that in respect of transport, it was not long ago that the total funding allocated to the East Midlands was less than the annual uplift for London, which highlighted how far behind the region was compared to many other areas of the UK.  Councillor Mallender stated that he wished that there was a better system of devolution in this country, which would allow money to be raised locally and spent locally; however, although he considered the system to be flawed, as it was the only one on offer, he would therefore be supporting Rushcliffe’s continued involvement in it and hoped that a better name would be found for the Authority.


Councillor Way stated that whilst there were lots of positives, there continued to be concerns and questions regarding the process, including the worry that this additional tier would be costly, with the introduction of a further precept, adding to financial strain.  Councillor Way noted that the interim district representatives consisted of four Labour Group Leaders and questioned if there would be more proportional representation in the future, if those elected would be elected for the whole term, or rotated and stated that it was a concern that some areas would miss out on funding.  Councillor Way also asked how the failings of some councils to balance budgets would impact on other councils that had managed budgets more successfully, and if those councils would miss out on funding thereby becoming a victim of their own good management.  It was hoped that all new initiatives would benefit the whole region, and in particular rural areas, which were often side-lined, and Councillor Way stated that it was therefore very important that Rushcliffe was involved, to ensure that its needs were heard.  


In seconding the recommendation, Councillor Brennan welcomed the report and the additional investment that the Combined County Authority would bring to the region, which previously it had missed out on, due to people not working together. Councillor Brennan stated that regional authorities had an understanding of local issues and needs and the idea of a single voice speaking for the region should be welcomed. Despite the Borough’s perceived affluence, Councillor Brennan stated that there were needs in the Borough, which should be recognised. The Council must also not be naïve about the future trajectory for the organisation of local government, and it was vital that Rushcliffe remained involved and had a voice to advocate for local residents.  Councillor Brennan welcomed the proposals for a wider District and Borough Assembly, which would also give voice directly to the district authorities and stated that this was a great opportunity to devolve funds and decision making, and Council was reminded that the Borough had already benefitted from £580k funding for environmental retrofitting and it was important that the funding continued to come where it was needed.


The Leader referred to comments made by Councillor Grocock regarding the membership of the Executive Leaders Group and confirmed that the four representatives had been voted in by the district councils.  The Leader referred to previous comments regarding the region lagging behind, and he hoped that this would allow more focus on the East Midlands as a whole and attract significant investment into the region.  The Leader also echoed comments made about transport and agreed that this should allow for better service integration across the county. The Leader concluded by welcoming the general consensus around the Chamber.


It was RESOLVED that the ongoing involvement and engagement of Rushcliffe Borough Council in the development of the East Midlands Mayoral Combined County Authority and in the delivery of benefits that will come to the region through Devolution be supported.

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