Any hopes of resurrecting a devolution deal for Lincolnshire appear dead in the water – unless the Government stops treating the county with disdain.
That is the stark warning from Colin Mair, leader of UKIP on Lincolnshire County Council.
Coun Mair was one of the biggest critics of the existing deal which was rejected by county councillors last month, despite claims it would have injected £450million into the region.
The plan involved creating a Greater Lincolnshire Combined Authority involving ten existing councils. It would have been led by an elected mayor.
However, county councillors voted 43-17 against the deal.
All ten councils had to agree to the concept and the county council vote appeared to deliver a crushing setback.
It has emerged talks are on-going about resurrecting some form of agreement – possibly without a mayor.
In an exclusive interview, Coun Mair admitted it was ‘theoretically possible’ for devolution to go ahead but he indicated major changes would have to be made to the proposals , not least regarding funding.
He said: “The real issue that swayed the vote was that we were being asked to sign up to a blank piece of paper and the Government would fill in the details later.
“This is a government that went on record saying that with respect to devolution they were making things up as they went along.
“This is a government who have removed £140 million a year from the county council budget and large sums of money from the district council budgets, for instance £6 million from East Lindsey.
“So they remove over £200 million a year from the Greater Lincolnshire budgets, then say if we sign up to a devolution deal with an elected mayor they will generously give us £15 million a year.
“Note they said 75 per cent of this £15 million will be earmarked for capital spend and 25 per cent for revenue spend.
“Like the colonialists in previous times, they think that offering us natives a few trinkets will dazzle us into giving in to them. I for one am not going to dance to their tune.
“They say if we refuse their generous offer we will go to the back of the queue.
“Lincolnshire is already almost the worst-funded county in England, so we are already at the back of the queue.
“They think they can treat us with complete disdain. That must change.”
County council leader Martin Hill is still a big advocate 0f devolution, as are the leaders of West Lindsey and NE Lincolnshire councils, and North Lincolnshire.