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Document to be published later this year setting out details of devolution deal for Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire

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Council leaders in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire will publish a document later this year setting out how a potential future combined authority will be managed and governed if a devolution deal is secured.

This document, leaders say, will act as a plan and a blueprint for devolution in the East Midlands as councils in the two cities and counties bid to Whitehall for more funding and decision-making powers.

A government minister has already publicly backed the East Midlands plan for devolution, which could give local leaders more ability to shape how money is spent in the region and provide more local control on major projects.

County Hall, home of Nottinghamshire County Council. (54207581)
County Hall, home of Nottinghamshire County Council. (54207581)

It would mirror similar deals achieved in other regions like Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire, with a potential combined authority to include representatives from the two city and county councils.

A mayor would also need to be elected to control the combined authority, with initial suggestions indicating the first election for this position will take place in May 2024 alongside the next General Election.

Leaders expect negotiations with the government to conclude by autumn this year in time for the election, with negotiators focusing on policy areas like health, transport, housing, education and skills and the environment.

County Hall.
County Hall.

The latest cost-benefit analysis for the wider devolution project forecasts that, for every £1 spent by a future combined authority, between £13 and £14 would be returned.

The plans are also expected to improve transport connectivity across the region, supporting major projects like the East Midlands Freeport, and lead to thousands of new job opportunities for residents.

Anthony May, chief executive of Nottinghamshire County Council, says negotiations with the government are relatively straightforward because other regions have discussed core elements of devolution in the past.

He added the councils have stressed the East Midlands deal should be similar to the deals that have come before us, stating leaders will be seeking investment sums and powers akin to those in regions like Manchester.

Speaking at a Nottingham and Nottinghamshire economic prosperity committee, he added: “We need to have the capacity to keep pace with this.

“The elements of us working with the government are more-or-less straightforward depending on whether they have been done before.

“The elements relating to how we work with each other, the governance, consulting with the public and building the combined authority — which will have its own structure, rules and operating arrangements — will require capacity and resource.

“We’re going to write all of this down into one overarching document, a plan, so that this group and the wider group of leaders can see how we intend to go about this devolution deal.”

Council papers state this document will also set out negotiating standpoints, a wider governance framework, plans for communication and engagement and the combined authority’s wider structure.

This, papers state, will ensure the future authority is effective from day one.

The Greater Manchester combined authority is currently made up of 11 representatives — ten indirectly elected from the councils involved in the project and the directly-elected Labour mayor Andy Burnham.

The Manchester authority represents around 2.8m people, which is slightly higher than the 2.2m expected to be governed by the future East Midlands combined authority.

Ben Bradley, leader of Nottinghamshire County Council and Mansfield MP, said: “From my perspective, the work on this, the collaboration on it has been excellent.

“The minister involved, Neil O’Brien MP, has publicly endorsed our bid which is helpful and — from a legislative perspective — our MPs across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire are on board with this too.”

David Mellen, leader of Nottingham City Council, added: “This is going to be about getting our fair share, about revolutionising the adult skills world to give people the ability to retrain and the decision on what that is, isn’t made in Whitehall but somewhere here.

“It’s about being clear what the benefits are so we can talk to people about it on the street.

“Otherwise, there’s going to be a wave of disinterest in this rather than seeing it as I see it — as a way of us being able to do the things we haven’t been able to do in authorities because money has been going elsewhere.”

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