New Future for Local Government in Derbyshire
Written by Spire Radio on 11 September 2020
Derbyshire County Council has announced ambitious plans for the future of local government in the county.
The move comes in preparation for the local government and devolution white paper expected to be released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in the coming weeks.
The plans prioritise, in an approach known as Vision Derbyshire, a commitment to work with district and borough councils to achieve the best possible deal for residents, communities and businesses. If a deal cannot be achieved with Vision Derbyshire either through all the involved councils not agreeing to the changes that must happen, or because the Government requires a different solution, the county council will seek to establish a single unitary authority covering the whole of Derbyshire.
The ambitious plans also include the establishment of an East Midlands Combined Authority to ensure the region is on an equal footing to West Midlands and Greater Manchester.
Councillor Barry Lewis, Leader of Derbyshire County Council, said the approach was vital to ensure Derbyshire was at the top of the pile as the Government seeks to level up the country.
“Councils across Derbyshire have worked tirelessly over the last 18 months to build a new approach to local authority governance. At the heart of all of our efforts is a commitment to achieving the best possible results for Derbyshire’s people, communities and businesses.
“It is vital that Derbyshire and the wider East Midlands region does not miss the opportunity to address historic funding inequalities and is at the front of the queue for much-needed investment.
“The Government has made clear that staying as we are is not an option. We have been working closely with our district and borough council partners on a new way of working. We want this to continue and it is our preferred route to getting a deal.
However, if our collective approach does not meet the Government’s requirements or all of the involved councils cannot agree to the changes that must happen, the county council will have to take an alternative path to keep our historic county together and seek to create a single unitary council for Derbyshire.
“If we do not act decisively now we will likely miss the once in a generation opportunity before us and may have no say in what happens to our county and how it is governed. We, in Derbyshire, need to be masters of our own future.”
On 15th and 16th, September Derbyshire County Council will convene a special Cabinet and then take a paper to Full Council to ensure all outcomes are covered. It will recommend the Council:
• Notes the Government’s intention to publish a Devolution and Recovery White Paper in autumn 2020.
• Approves the consideration of the White Paper (once published) to assess the most appropriate response.
• Approves the Council’s involvement in the development of a devolution deal for the East Midlands to support recovery, resilience and prosperity across the region.
• Approves Vision Derbyshire as the preferred route for local government reform, provided the conditions for this route as set out in the report are fully met.
• Approves proposals for the Leader of the Council to write to the Secretary of State to request an invitation to submit a proposal for a single tier of local government for the county in the event that Vision Derbyshire is not able to satisfy the Government’s requirements for reform and a subsequent devolution deal.
• Mandates officers within the Council to prepare an alternative route for devolution and the development of a case for a single unitary for Derbyshire, should the conditions for the preferred route for local government reform not be fully met.
• Opposes any proposals for a new model of local government which disaggregates the county footprint due to service fragmentation and the breaking up of historical boundaries.
Papers can be viewed online on the Derbyshire County Council website