Cabinet minister hails Lincolnshire councils’ devolution backing

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A government minister has today praised Lincolnshire’s council chiefs for their willingness to work together to secure greater powers and investment for the county.

Earlier this month, chancellor George Osborne announced plans to establish a Greater Lincolnshire authority under the leadership of a directly-elected mayor.

The announcement came alongside the publication of a draft agreement signed by business and political leaders from the Humber to the Wash.

And, speaking during a visit to Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, today, communities secretary Greg Clark said it was the authorities themselves who had done most to drive the idea forward.

He said: “They forced the pace. They said, ‘We’re very keen. We agree with each other. We can make good use of the extra money. Don’t hold us back.’”

Under the plans, the new authority would control a £15 million a year infrastructure budget for the next 30 years.

The funding and responsibilities would also include transport, housing, skills training and flood-risk management. Further commitments are also agreed on health and social care, as well as court and prison services.

The first mayoral elections are currently scheduled to take place in May next year, alongside county council polls, subject to a full agreement being reached between the participating authorities and supported by both them and the government.

And Mr Clark said the initial settlement could be the first wave of funding that could come the area’s way under the devolution process.