Boston council rejects 'Devolution Deal' as leader hits out at 'lack of investment' for borough

Councillors in Boston have voted unanimously not to support the Devolution Deal proposed for Greater Lincolnshire.
Boston Borough Council offices.Boston Borough Council offices.
Boston Borough Council offices.

The borough council says its vote is a ‘clear message’ to Lincolnshire County Council, North Lincolnshire Council, North East Lincolnshire Council and Government.

After seeking views from all councillors, the leader of the council – Coun Anne Dorrian – has now formally responded to a consultation on the proposed deal after full council on Monday, January 15, voted unanimously to reject the proposals in their current form, with specific concerns relating to the deal itself and its governance, which members, at present, felt does not give all district/borough councils a voice on the Mayoral Combined County Authority.

The deal negotiated with Government by the upper-tier councils, led by LCC leader Coun Martin Hill, includes: £24m per year for 30 years; £28.4m to Greater Lincolnshire for 2024/25 to be allocated prior to the Mayoral Combined County Authority being established in 2025; the devolution of strategy and budgets related to skills; and multi-year transport budgets, with flexibility to allocate funds to local priorities.

A Borough Council spokesperson said: “Councillors were concerned that none of the projects put forward by the (Borough) council for a share of the initial £28.4m funding pot for 2024/25 were supported by Lincolnshire County Council (LCC). They also noted from data in the council report that over the past five years, Boston has received significantly less investment from LCC for major infrastructure investment, when compared to other areas in the county. The consultation response states the council has little confidence that this will change going forward if the deal proceeds.”

Coun Anne Dorrian added: “It makes sense that any transfer of Government powers to the local area must come with appropriate funding that can make a real impact for our communities. This deal simply does not do that for Boston Borough or wider Lincolnshire. Council has confirmed a view that I have shared with the upper tier councils: That all district/borough councils must be represented on the Mayoral Combined Authority.”

She added: “The deal, at present, does not outweigh the cost to our communities of introducing a Mayoral Combined County Authority with a directly elected Mayor who can raise a precept for our residents to pay at a time of serious financial hardship for many.”

Coun Martin Hill rejected Coun Dorian’s claim of a lack of investment in Boston as incorrect and, despite being the district with the smallest population, LCC’s capital spending in Boston over the last five years was not the smallest per capita of the seven district areas.

He added: “Our future planned capital spend for Boston is also more than several other larger districts. These figures relate to ‘capital funding’, which is the money spent on projects such as road building and school improvements, a recent example being the new Boston Endeavour Academy."

He explained that very high-cost projects, such as the Lincoln Eastern Bypass can single-handedly inflate any differences in investment between districts.

He added the county has also supported investment of more than £80m in Boston via the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership and from government.