East Midlands could receive new powers in first of its kind devolution deal

·4-min read

The East Midlands could receive new powers to improve transport, control education budgeting and build homes in a first of its kind devolution deal if the Government’s Levelling Up Bill passes.

The initiative, announced by The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on Tuesday, would see a Mayoral Combined County Authority in Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire and the election of a mayor.

The holder of the new role would be responsible for delivering local priorities including education, infrastructure and home building, backed by a £38 million per year investment fund, totalling £1.14 billion over 30 years.

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Levelling Up Secretary Greg Clark said the East Midlands has the potential to “lead Britain’s economy of the future” (Beresford Hodge/PA)

The mayor would be granted compulsory purchase powers, the ability to designate mayoral development areas and establish Mayoral Development Corporations, similar to those seen in parts of London, to promote growth and build new homes.

The Mayoral Combined County Authority would have control over an adult education budget and the ability to increase control over transport infrastructure.

However, the new devolution model is dependent on parliamentary approval of the Government’s flagship Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill and necessary secondary legislation, as well as a public consultation.

The Bill this week drew criticism from a group of cross-party MPs on the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Select Committee who said it lacks detail and does “little to reassure” that levelling up is “more than a slogan”.

Despite the criticism at the relatively early stage in the passage of the Bill, an election for the role of mayor is expected to take place in 2024.

Announcing the deal on Tuesday, Levelling Up Secretary Greg Clark said: “The East Midlands is renowned for its economic dynamism and it has the potential to lead Britain’s economy of the future.

“For a long time I have believed that the East Midlands should have the powers and devolved budgets that other areas in Britain have been benefitting from and I am thrilled to be able to bring that about in Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

“I am impressed by the way councils in the region have come together to agree the first deal of this kind in the country, which will benefit residents in all of the great cities, towns and villages across the area of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.”

“Taking decisions out of Whitehall and putting them back in the hands of local people is foundational to levelling up and this deal does that.”

The new East Midlands Combined County Authority would be granted control of over £17 million of additional funding for the building of new homes on brownfield land in 2024/25, subject to sufficient eligible projects for funding being identified.

A further £18 million has been agreed to support housing priorities and drive towards carbon neutrality in the area.

In a joint statement, Ben Bradley MP, leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, Barry Lewis, leader of Derbyshire County Council, Chris Poulter, leader of Derby City Council, and David Mellen, leader of Nottingham City Council, said the deal was “fantastic news”.

They said: “As leaders, we have all fought for a fairer share for our cities and counties, and a bigger voice for our area, to give us the clout and the influence we deserve, and to help us live up to our full potential.

“This deal would help make that a reality, creating more and better jobs through greater investment in our area, with increased economic growth, better transport, housing, skills training, and an enhanced greener environment, as we move towards being carbon neutral.

“These are what we all want to see, and we will work together for the common good of the East Midlands.

“We haven’t always had the same level of funding or influence as other areas, which has held us back. This is a golden opportunity to change that and put the power to do so in our own hands.

“There is a lot still to be agreed, and this is the beginning of the journey, not the end. We’re determined to build on this deal over time, as other areas have done.”