Two Derbyshire council leaders have expressed their dismay about being left out of initial talks to form an East Midlands ‘super-council’.
But they have said they are not against the idea – providing their own authorities are not abolished.
The proposal would see the county councils of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Lincolnshire – all led by the Conservatives – working together with the city councils of Derby, Nottingham and Leicester – all led by Labour – as one ‘strategic alliance’.
These authorities hope that by working together they can gain a hefty devolution deal from central government – and combat the ‘weight and clout’ of the West Midlands Combined Authority, and its Mayor Andy Street.
However, there has been a mention that any combined authority could also include a reorganisation of the local government structure of each county. This could mean the removal of some or all district and borough councils.
Councillor Lewis Rose, the Conservative leader of Derbyshire Dales District Council, said: “I was surprised to read about it first in the press and to be left out of the first discussions, a feeling which is felt by all of my fellow district and borough council leaders. I am led to believe that the plans would lead to a significant amount more investment in the region and more money coming in for councils. We had been very supportive of the previous combined authority plans and we would support this too. But not local government reorganisation – we would strongly resist this as a council.
Meanwhile, Councillor Tricia Gilby, Labour leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, was also “disappointed” at being left out of the initial talks.
She said: “I fully understand and support conversations about how the East Midlands can match the growing influence of the West Midlands’ elected mayor. It is important that our region has a greater economic voice.
“However, it is disappointing that district and borough council leaders have not been part of these discussions when Chesterfield, and other councils, are working hard to grow their economies and create good quality jobs for local people.”