East Midlands Council leaders back in discussion over creation of a ‘combined authority’

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East Midlands Council leaders have commenced talks on developing a strategic body across four counties which would operate like a combined authority. It is thought this could pave the way for a devolution deal.

Preliminary discussions involving Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire CCs have focused on a way to “counter-balance” the power of the West Midlands CA, with an acceptance this may lead to some reorganisation of local government structures in the region, according to a report by Jon Bunn in the LGC.

Leicestershire leader Nick Rushton (Con) told LGC the government “could not ignore” a combined authority proposal which also included the three counties and Derby, Leicester and Nottingham city councils, all unitaries.

He said: “We are in the Midlands Engine, we are in Midlands Connect, we need to have something big in the east to counteract Andy Street and Birmingham in the west – we haven’t got that massive body of power in the east.

“We need something big and strategic that is recognised by the government and could attract substantial devolution. We have all promised officer time to look at something between now and the end of the summer.”

In 2015, the two counties, two cities and seven districts in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire were at the forefront of the push for a devolution deal but negotiations stalled over the requirement to adopt an elected mayor.

And, in 2016, deals negotiated with the government for a Greater Lincolnshire devolution deal faltered over the requirement to adopt an elected mayor.

However, a report published in November last year found closer working between Derby and Nottingham and their neighbouring districts could generate an additional £11bn for the economy by 2030.