Ground breaking proposals for devolving powers from central government to the East Midlands are being seen as a model for many other UK regions, according to local councils in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.
In his budget speech today, Chancellor George Osborne highlighted the progress being made with ‘devolution deals’ in several regions as part of a major shake-up in the way the country is run.
The well-advanced devo deal for Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Derby and Derbyshire would be the first that involves two ’Combined Authority’ areas and two-tiers of local government under a single Local Enterprise Partnership area, so is viewed by key figures in Government as a ‘scaleable model’ which could work in much of the rest of the UK.
The D2N2 devo deal, based around the two proposed Combined Authorities in the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) area, would see Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Derby and Derbyshire take control of key economic levers like jobs, skills, housing and transport, giving local people and local businesses more power to grow the local economy grow and make local lives better. The business community is a key partner in developing the proposals that will see 55,000 new private sector jobs created by 2023 and 77,000 affordable new homes by 2020.
All 19 local Councils in the D2N2 area are signed up to the Devo Deal and Combined Authority proposals which provide a strong unified vision for growth and jobs in the East Midlands. The private and public sector are working together to realise this vision that will see more money and power devolved to the area that will create more jobs, improve and better join-up road and rail links, provide more affordable housing and faster, more widespread broadband connectivity.
Nottingham City Council Leader, Councillor Jon Collins, said: “Devolution is not about creating a new layer of government just for the sake of it. It’s about the Government handing over real powers to cities and regions so that decisions are made at a local level, not down in Westminster, which better meet local needs and are more effective in creating new jobs, housing and improved transport networks.
“People locally can see the benefits devolved power has brought to Scotland, Wales and London and want the same to happen here.”
Nottinghamshire County Council Leader, Councillor Alan Rhodes, said: “The D2N2 devolution drive has reached the top table of Government and is being considered very seriously as a model for devolution deals across the country. Our bid is unique in that it brings together different types of authority – County, City, District and Borough Councils – with different political backgrounds, but with one shared goal of putting big decisions and resources into the hands of local people.
“We’re itching to get started on delivering the devolution agenda for Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.”
Derby City Council Leader, Councillor Ranjit Banwait, said: “Derby City Council is excited at the prospect of a “devo deal” for the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire area, enabling us to deliver economic growth as part of the “Midlands Engine for Growth”. I refer in particular to our innovative request for devolved powers to enable us to work more swiftly and effectively, combined with the exciting prospect for businesses of our proposed investment and a “free trade zone” related to East Midlands Airport.
“We hope to be one of the first ten such devo deals and to be able to punch above our weight in delivering jobs, homes and investment to offset the impact of government cuts on the city’s economy.”
Derbyshire County Council Leader, Councillor Anne Western, said: “Local councils are facing massive budget pressures like never before.
“Devolution would give us greater control over how money is spent in Derbyshire and put us in a stronger position to bid for more money where we think it’s needed.
“But it’s not just about finance. Local councils are better placed to understand what local people want and need. Devolution would give us the power to make more decisions locally which means we would be in a better position to tackle the issues we know local people are facing rather than being at the mercy of Whitehall.”
2N2 Devo Deal FAQs
What could the Devo Deal deliver, if successful?
- 55,000 new jobs by 2023
- Improved 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
- Improved frequency, 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
- Increased potential for East Midlands Airport – the second busiest freight terminal in the country after Heathrow – to increase international trade and passenger transport
- More and better quality apprenticeships, tackling the root causes of long term unemployment, and further reduce rates of young people not in education or employment
- Greater control over further education to ensure 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.
- Speeded up planning process and 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.
What are the 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 March 2016. Any new devolved powers would be held by the two proposed twin D2 and N2 Combined Authorities with the first powers potentially devolved by 2017.
How would any devolved powers to the D2N2 area be governed?
All involved in the devolution deal are keen that there would be no additional layer of bureaucracy created; 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.
What councils are involved?
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.