Grantham Journal letter: Managing the new mayor’s money

South Kesteven District Council.

South Kesteven District Council.

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It is reassuring to read that Coun Bob Adams thinks that the Greater Lincolnshire devolution plans may not go ahead; there are a range of fundamental problems with the model being imposed by government. However, it is quite staggering that the council appears to be quite happy to sign up to a new layer of government with a blank cheque.

The agreement signed by Coun Adams and agreed by SKDC contains no information about how the position of mayor, the mayoral office and the work of the new authority will be funded. Only by digging into the scheme is it revealed that these costs will be shared equally among all the partner councils. However there are no estimates about how much these costs will be.

Essentially, the mayor just needs to put in expense claims and these will be paid as there is no requirement for a budget or plan in the first year of the mayor’s term of office from May 2017. Only from 2018 will a budget be required which will then allow the mayor with his/her cabinet to set a new precept to be paid by hard pressed council tax payers across Lincolnshire.

The whole construct seems a complicated, expensive and rather opaque way of getting a small amount of additional cash. The £15 million a year the mayor will receive also has to be used as a form of seed funding as well as forming the investment for a range of projects across a huge and diverse geographical area. There is no guarantee in the model that any new funding will actually come to South Kesteven.

The public consultation on this venture is now open and we will be opposing it. Not only are there issues with financial efficacy, but there is no cultural or political identification with the notion of a Greater Lincolnshire, or any will for a directly elected mayor.

Rob Shorrock

Chair of Grantham Labour

New Beacon Road

Grantham