Minister drops further hints at devolution chances for Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire's future: reading between the lines of Jacob Young's hints
Daniel Jaines

Daniel Jaines

Minister drops further hints at devolution chances for Lincolnshire

A government minister has dropped further hints that a devolution deal for Greater Lincolnshire is expected to be announced this week.

Jacob Young, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, which includes the remit of devolution and county deals, responded to two Greater Lincolnshire MPs on Monday in the House of Commons.

Conservative Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh, continuing his defence of RAF Scampton against Home Office plans for an asylum camp, raised the risk of losing £300 million in private sector funding in his constituency and requested a meeting with the minister.

“For instance, the roof of the officers’ mess alone will cost half a million pounds. The roofs of the hangars are decaying. The site will not be viable unless private sector investment is unleashed, and the Home Office proceeds with it," he said.

Meanwhile, fellow Tory Scunthorpe MP Holly Mumby-Croft stated she had recently spoken with North Lincolnshire Council Leader Rob Waltham to confirm the authority's readiness to advance levelling up projects.

"I hope the minister can find time to visit Scunthorpe and see some of the projects. I would be very happy to show him around, and I know that the good people of Scunthorpe would give him a warm welcome," she said.

Jacob Young agreed to meet with both MPs, telling Sir Leigh: "One of the key ways to unlock private investment in the Greater Lincolnshire area is to progress with the devolution deal. I shall be delighted to meet him to discuss that further."

To Mumby-Croft, he added, "I have had many conversations with her council leader about devolution in Greater Lincolnshire. I look forward to visiting Scunthorpe very soon, hopefully with further good news on that front. I would be delighted to be shown around."

It was reported on Monday that a devolution deal for Lincolnshire was expected to be announced by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in his Autumn statement from 12.30pm on Wednesday, alongside a similar offer for neighbouring Humberside.

This means Lincolnshire would have to elect a mayor to oversee the expected tens of millions of pounds in additional funding for the county.

While the local councils have not commented on the matter, Lincoln MP Karl McCartney expressed optimism for the region's chances to get a devolution deal this time round.

"It will also lead to more funding, more powers to make big decisions locally and create a clear champion for our wonderful county," he said.

“Greater Lincolnshire needs to have a higher profile nationally, and a Greater Lincolnshire Mayor would deliver and be responsible for this.

"This would better support our brilliant companies, industries, and farming community.

"The Mayor would also have powers to both promote and protect our wonderful coast, countryside, city, towns, and villages — all of which are hugely important.”

Lincolnshire has been seeking a deal for several years but missed out on the latest round earlier this year.

If successful, devolution would introduce an additional authority layer led by a directly-elected Lincolnshire mayor, alongside both the county and district councils, and the unitary authorities of North and North East Lincolnshire.

Some Yorkshire leaders have already expressed confidence in their area's prospects.

Lincolnshire's 2016 devolution attempt failed because council leaders at Lincolnshire County Council and South Kesteven District Council opposed adding a mayor as an extra layer of bureaucracy.

Then, in February 2022, Lincolnshire missed another round of devolution negotiations. This time, the government has indicated that devolving significant powers or funding will necessitate a directly elected mayor.

Authorities with deals have gained new powers and about £20 million a year in additional funding.

Lincolnshire district councils are generally supportive of the latest plans, but there have been past concerns regarding local government reorganisation and the dissolution of lower-tier authorities.