UPDATED: South Kesteven councillors agree to fund research into business case for local government shake up

South Kesteven District Council’s Cabinet has approved the allocation of £50,000 to support the development of a business case for a local government shake up leading to devolved powers for Lincolnshire.
Leader of SKDC, Coun Kelham Cooke. EMN-200818-180537001Leader of SKDC, Coun Kelham Cooke. EMN-200818-180537001
Leader of SKDC, Coun Kelham Cooke. EMN-200818-180537001

An evidence-based business case will be put together for local government reorganisation in the county that “best serves the needs of residents”.

All seven district councils in the county are working together on the best way forward for local government in the county ahead of the Government’s White Paper on Recovery and Devolution due to be published in the autumn.

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After the SKDC decision on Tuesday, Leader of the Council, Coun Kelham Cooke, said: “This is about the very future of those who live and work in our district and the wider county.

“There are already a couple of proposals on the table from Lincolnshire County Council and North Lincolnshire Council and North East Lincolnshire Council. We want to be actively involved in these conversations, but we are not convinced that they are the right way forward.”

However Lincolnshire County Council has denied that it has a firm proposal for the shape of any reorganised authority structure.

Coun Cooke went on: “The logical way forward is to have an evidence-based solution, and for that we need objective research and a robust business case. This money will provide that.”

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Coun Cooke added that he supported the Government’s direction of travel, but speed and destination were vital to help communities recover from Covid-19 and build back better. He said he wanted South Kesteven to play an active and positive part in all discussions.

North and North East Lincolnshire councils are proposing two new unitary areas – North and South Lincolnshire with equal population areas.

Martin Hill, Leader of Lincolnshire County Council said they were taking a slower approach: “We are waiting to hear from the government what their rules around reorganisation are going to be.

“Until anyone does that there is no point in saying what we think we can do.”

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On the evidenced-based business case he said they have already been down this path before and will be looking at all the ramifications.

He denied the county council was at this stage advocating or suggesting a single authority for Greater Lincolnshire.