‘Stronger and more accountable’ decisions for Nottinghamshire
Ambitions for devolved government powers for Nottinghamshire could move a step closer. Nottinghamshire County Council is to debate plans to return to a leader and cabinet model of decision making in order to strengthen the case for devolved powers from central government.
The council has operated a committee-style model since 2012 but has today announced proposals to work towards a return to a stronger model of decision making used in local government whereby decisions are driven by a cabinet rather than multiple smaller committees.
In July, the government set out its plan for a further round of devolution to local areas, as part of the its ‘levelling up’ agenda. Devolution gives local councils and partners more powers over areas such as transport, economic development, planning and housing, skills, the environment, health, culture and public safety.
In the same month, county councillors from across the political divide voted in favour of a motion to write to the government and prioritise Nottinghamshire for a devolution deal. The government’s Levelling Up white paper is due to be published in autumn in which it will outline how more powers can be given to local areas to make decisions locally that are currently made by central government.
Under government terms for devolution deals, councils can only be considered for devolved powers if they operate a ‘strong and accountable’ leader and cabinet system.
Nottinghamshire councils, including the city and district councils, are already part of an Economic Prosperity Committee (EPC) which, under devolved powers, could be used to drive improvements in areas such as waste and energy, housing, transport, use of the public estate, climate change, community safety and cohesion.
Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, Ben Bradley MP, said: “Devolution would mean more accountability but more control for Nottinghamshire over important areas of life.
“For example, it could help to deliver better bus services with joined up routes and ticketing.
“It could help steer adult skills and retraining towards the right sectors of industry, so people have a better chance to get good, well paid jobs. Devolution could mean a joined-up tourism strategy for Nottinghamshire to make the most of our historic assets and bring money into the local economy.
“Crucially, devolution would also enable the county council and its partners to have a stronger voice to help unlock the investment opportunities in Nottinghamshire. It would be a first step to create a stronger and more accountable leadership that will not only give us the powers we need locally but will also create a simpler and more efficient decision making.”
Nottinghamshire County Council, Broxtowe Borough Council and Newark and Sherwood District Council are currently the only authorities in the county to still be operating a committee-style leadership system.
Newark and Sherwood District Council has decided to move to a cabinet system by May 2022.
The only other upper tier council we are aware operates a committee system is Cambridgeshire County Council.
If approved at a future council meeting, the changes are due to be implemented at the annual meeting in May 2022.