It was a hollow victory for the Conservative leadership when a devolution debate took place during the last meeting of West Lindsey District Council.
During the course of the debate, speakers from all sides of the chamber expressed reservations about a Mayor and Cabinet, and only one spoke unconditionally in favour, saying that it would be ‘fun’.
At one stage, it was pointed out that all 10 Lincolnshire authorities would share unspecified mayoral costs, and this would mean that residents would get the ‘double whammy’ of paying once through their district council tax and again through their county council tax.
Several speakers pointed out that Lincolnshire has always been under-funded; but they failed to recognise that a vote in favour of devolution would guarantee that under-funding would continue for the next 30 years.
The Devolution Agreements for the 2017 Mayoral Authorities have been published and this is what they show: West Midlands Combined Authority will receive £36.5m pa from central government; East Anglia Combined Authority £30m pa; Liverpool City Region £30m pa; Greater Manchester Combined Authority £30m pa; North East Combined Authority £30m pa (they have refused the deal); Sheffield City Region Combined Authority £30m pa; West of England Combined Authority (they are likely to refuse the deal), Tees Valley £15m pa; and Greater Lincolnshire Combined Authority £15m pa.
So Greater Lincolnshire shares bottom spot with Tees Valley, which has a similar population; but is only an eighth of the size.
When it came to the West Lindsey recorded vote, 14 Conservatives voted in favour of devolution, two abstained, and four voted against.
The Independent, the Lincolnshire Independent, and the three Labour members voted against; but the Liberal Democrats were split: with one absentee, three in favour and four against.
The motion was therefore carried by a simple majority of five.
That said, it is cold comfort for West Lindsey residents when only 17 out of 36 councillors actually voted in favour of devolution.
Group Captain P J Rodgers MBE RAF (Retd)