Lincolnshire County Council leader’s plan for authority to exit association is ‘bizarre decision’

Coun Martin Hill, Leader of Lincolnshire County Council.
Coun Martin Hill, Leader of Lincolnshire County Council.
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Lincolnshire County Council could be one of the only councils in England and Wales to not be a member of the Local Government Association (LGA) if a proposal goes ahead.

A report prepared by Conservative council leader Martin Hill recommends that the council withdraw from the association – which works on behalf of councils to ensure local government has a strong, credible voice with national government – from April 2018.

Coun Phil Dilks, Lincolnshire County Council member for Deeping St James.

Coun Phil Dilks, Lincolnshire County Council member for Deeping St James.

The report says this would save the council £77,957 a year – £65,000 in annual membership and £12,000 in membership of a special interest group.

But Labour’s Coun Phil Dilks, who represents the Deeping St James ward, has asked for the decision to be “called-in” and it will be discussed at an overview and scrutiny management committee meeting on Thursday.

He believes it may be a “false economy” which could end up costing the council even more than the current membership fees in additional fees for consultants and lobbyists – which the council currently benefits from as a member of the LGA.

Coun Dilks said: “This is the latest example of the bizarre decisions being taken under Coun Hill’s leadership without consultation with elected members of the council and without the proper evidence.

I’m hoping that once the members at LCC see what they are getting from the LGA for their money, they won’t go through with their decision to leave

Coun Gary Porter, Leader of South Holland District Council

“It is clear this decision has been taken with no analysis of the extra costs of consultants and lobbyists that the council would incur if we walk away from the LGA.”

The county council is currently one of 414 English and Welsh authorities which are members of the Local Government Asssociation.

Coun Dilks added: “We would become the only non-London local authority in the country not to belong to the LGA. So instead of being part of the national voice of local government in Parliament, we would be isolated and would have to go it alone to find ways of attempting to lobby Parliament.”

The LGA is chaired by Lord Gary Porter, Conservative leader of South Holland District Council.

He said: “Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) are obviously free to do whatever they need to do and it’s right that everyone looks to see that they are getting good value for money.

“But the LGA services the needs of all councils and we have to address the issues that affect our membership appropriately.

“As chairman of the LGA, it would be wrong of me to fight for the needs of county councils if that negatively affects or takes away from all the other district and/or Unitary councils.

“I’m hoping that once the members at LCC see what they are getting from the LGA for their money, they won’t go through with their decision to leave.

“We’ll be far more effective if we all work nicely together and my job, as chairman of the LGA, is to convince the members at LCC that our Association represents extremely good value for money.”

Coun Hill was unavailable for comment.