Boston borough councillors criticise the Greater Lincolnshire Devolution Deal calling it a 'stitch up'

'I thought it was a stitch-up': Boston councillors tear into Greater Lincolnshire devolution deal
Boston Borough Council meeting | Photo: YouTubeBoston Borough Council meeting | Photo: YouTube
Boston Borough Council meeting | Photo: YouTube

Boston Borough Councillors have openly criticised the Greater Lincolnshire devolution deal, questioning the adequacy of funding and equitable representation of all district councils.

During Monday’s Full Council meeting, local representatives supported Council Leader Anne Dorrian’s (Independent) recommendations, which highlighted concerns about the promised additional funding not matching inflation and the limited number of seats available on the combined mayoral authority.

The deal, which has already been approved by Lincolnshire County Council, North Lincolnshire Council, and North East Lincolnshire Council, promises to deliver £24 million annually to the region for 30 years via a Mayoral Investment Fund.

Other key aspects of the proposal include the election of a mayor in 2025, a one-off capital investment of £28.4 million, and the devolution of the adult education budget control starting 2026.

Councillor Dorrian insisted that, given the content of the proposal, “the council cannot support it in its current form.”

She continued: “Two things strike me about the devolution proposal. The two issues that concern me most are around governance and funding.

“Initially, after the election, there were two seats available for seven district councils. That was just untenable. Right from the get go, I wanted a seat at the table.

“If I was going to represent Boston residents, we needed a seat at the table. We couldn’t do it from the back room. We couldn’t do it if they were talking in Lincoln and I was stuck in Boston. So, for me, that was a line in the sand.

“Some time after the May election, as negotiations continued, we were then told that the offer was increased to four seats. Four seats for seven district councils. I still found that untenable.”

The Independent leader also expressed concern that Boston might not benefit from the additional funding, citing its history of receiving the lowest funding in the region.

She indicated that while the average expenditure per district between 2017 and 2022 was £65 million, Boston’s average was only £23.7 million, the lowest in Lincolnshire. “It is outrageous,” Councillor Dorrian added.

“The deal is not good enough and this council does not support it.”

Reflecting on previous conversations with the county council about a referendum, Kirton and Frampton Ward Councillor Ralph Pryke (Liberal Democrat) added: “I thought the whole system was a stitch-up.”

He noted that when he questioned Lincolnshire County Council Leader Martin Hill (Conservative) about the possibility of a referendum, an officer informed him that the idea was “dismissed at a very early stage” due to an estimated cost of £1.3 million.

“It’s pretty obvious that they weren’t interested in properly consulting the people,” continued Councillor Pryke, stressing the lack of any leaflets about the deal, which meant that all information was only available online.

“We would like a leaflet but I don’t think we’re going to get one.”

Councillor Helen Staples (Independent) expressed being “utterly appalled” upon reviewing the reports for the deal. She criticised the proposal to grant tax-raising powers to the mayor, stating: “To give so much power to one person, it’s so wrong. We are living in an area where people are really struggling.”

The representative for Fishtoft ward added: “I will fight against it because it is totally wrong for our community.”