Council leaders from Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire and business leaders from the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) are heading to London today (17 March) to open discussions with Whitehall to begin to negotiate a ground-breaking devolution deal for powers that will give local people and local businesses more influence over the things that make our economy grow and local lives better.

The consortium of representatives from the two proposed Combined Authorities of the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) area, together with prominent business figures from the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire area will meet with Greg Clark, Minister for Cities, to discuss how Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Derby and Derbyshire can take control of some of the key economic levers – jobs, skills and transport.

The proposed Combined Authorities will be the first two-tier areas to get to this position and, if successful, it could be a model for the future for the rest of the UK. The D2N2 devolution deal is amongst one of the first in the UK to be negotiated, with a number of other areas also seeking more control over investing the money which is generated through the local area, but which currently goes to Whitehall to be divided up nationally.

While the D2N2 delegation is in London they will also be meeting with Hilary Benn MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, to discuss the devolution proposals for the area.

The discussions are only happening because all local Councils in the D2N2 area – districts, boroughs, cities and the counties – are working together for the greater good of the region with a strong unified vision for growth and jobs.

Businesses, who have also worked alongside the councils in developing the vision, want to see more money coming to the area for improved road and rail links, better joined-up transport systems, more affordable housing and faster and more widespread broadband connectivity.

If successful, this deal would deliver:

  • 55,000 new jobs by 2023
  • Improving the quality and quantity of homes across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire – delivering 77,000 affordable new homes by 2020
  • £1bn Regional Investment Bank to help businesses better access to funds through a D2N2 investment business bank
  • Better connected towns and cities through the creation of two combined transport authorities covering Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire
  • Improve frequencies, integration and joint ticketing arrangements on public transport through London-style powers, as well as directly influencing improvements to motorways and major trunk roads in the area
  • Better exploiting the potential of East Midlands Airport – the second busiest freight terminal in the country after Heathrow to increase international trade and passenger transport
  • In addition to the creation of 55,000 new jobs, more and better quality apprenticeshipswill be created. In doing this, more power will be available to tackle the root causes of long term unemployment, and to further reduce the rates of young people not in education or employment
  • Greater control over the further education offer to ensuring that all local learners and employers have access to the right, high-quality further education offer, matching the skills of citizens with those demanded by the employer.
  • Speeding up the planning processand making it more flexible to respond to the different needs of the local areas
  • A smart infrastructure that future-proofs growth and prosperity with universal access to 4G and beyond, removing the digital divide facing those in vulnerable and rural communities
  • A localised, smarter energy strategy that is more sustainable and greener. This will include looking at both how to reduce energy usage and improve the production of energy by working with the Universities to look at the latest technologies.

Speaking on behalf of all Nottinghamshire authorities, Councillor Jon Collins, Leader of Nottingham City Council, said: “This level of ambition shows that the region is pushing to be seen alongside the likes of Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds as a regional powerhouse.

“It will give greater influence to local people over decisions which have real affect over their lives and prosperity – decisions which are currently taken in London, often by people with little knowledge of the issues facing local residents and businesses.”

Speaking on behalf of all Derbyshire authorities, Councillor Anne Western, Leader of Derbyshire County Council, said: “We are the first two-tier authority areas to have got to this stage which shows how councils across the political spectrum are willing to work together for the greater good. The Government needs a better way to work with two tiers of local government and this could be that way.

“It is important to stress that this is not about reorganisation of local councils, nor is it about us asking for additional funding. It is about making sure that the money that is raised locally, is used and invested based on local rather than national priorities. We will work collaboratively to ensure that we have the powers that will give the local area real growth with real jobs and real prosperity.”

Devolution timescales
Devolution Deals are being offered by Government to Combined Authorities, and the D2 and N2 areas are currently seeking to create two new Combined Authorities covering Derby and Derbyshire and Nottingham and Nottinghamshire by the end of the year. Any new devolved powers would be held by the two proposed twin D2 and N2 Combined Authorities and would not be developed until 2017.

How would any devolved powers to the D2N2 area be governed?
The D2N2 deal is being ‘pitched’ for the first time to Whitehall on March 17th and while all involved in ‘pitching’ the devolution deal to Government are keen that there would be no additional layer of bureaucracy created, all agree that there will need to be a strong governance arrangement in place to govern over any new devolved powers and are open to discussions with Whitehall on how that can best be achieved.

What is a combined authority?
A Combined Authority is a statutory body created by two or more neighbouring local authorities to lead collaboration on transport, regeneration and economic development.  Combined Authorities can, by agreement with their constituent authorities, take on certain powers and functions previously held by constituent authorities. A Combined Authority is a separate legal body and operates as a public body in a similar way to a council. Combined Authorities should make decision making simpler for strategic transport and infrastructure, employment and skills and economic development.  The Combined Authority would take decisions for the whole of the area without having to return to the individual councils to have decisions confirmed.

The proposed Derbyshire Combined Authority comprises of:
Amber Valley Borough Council, Bolsover District Council, Chesterfield Borough Council, Derby City Council, Derbyshire County Council, Derbyshire Dales District Council, Erewash Borough Council, High Peak Borough Council, North East Derbyshire District Council, South Derbyshire District Council.

The proposed Nottinghamshire Combined Authority comprises of:
Ashfield District Council, Bassetlaw District Council, Broxtowe Borough Council
Gedling Borough Council, Mansfield District Council, Newark and Sherwood District Council, Nottingham City Council, Nottinghamshire County Council, Rushcliffe Borough Council.