Hucknall councillors vote against as devolution deal is approved by Nottinghamshire County Council

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Nottinghamshire county councillors have voted in favour of an East Midlands devolution deal – but some said they did so because it was ‘the only deal’ on the table when it comes to further regional funding.

The £1.14bn agreement will see a single mayor elected to cover the combined authority of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

The ruling Conservative group backed the plan with enthusiasm, while Labour and most Independents offered more measured support.

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But the three Hucknall members – Coun John Wilmott, Coun Lee Waters and Coun Dave Shaw (all Ash Ind) – were among five who voted against the agreement.

Nottinghamshire Council has approved the proposed £1.14bn devolution deal - but Hucknall councillors voted against itNottinghamshire Council has approved the proposed £1.14bn devolution deal - but Hucknall councillors voted against it
Nottinghamshire Council has approved the proposed £1.14bn devolution deal - but Hucknall councillors voted against it

Speaking at the meeting, Coun Waters asked why the deal hadn’t been put to a referendum, saying: “You can trust the people on this, just like Brexit.

“This devolution reminds me of what that was all about, but on a local level.”

Afterwards he added: “Couns Shaw, Wilmott and I are concerned that this is not devolution, it's centralisation.

"There will be too much power in the hands of the few.

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"There will be a lack of accountability and democracy, council tax will go up in extra precepts and a well-run council area like Ashfield will end up subsidising service in other areas like Nottingham City and the rest of the county.

““There will be a lack of local knowledge and big areas like Nottingham City, and also Derbyshire, will get more, at the expense of other smaller areas like Hucknall."

"Our area will be a small voice versus Nottingham and Derby and will be overlooked.

"The extra money is not enough and negligible after factoring inflation and what's already been taken away from us.”

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The other two voting against were Coun Francis Purdue-Horan (Ind) and Coun Steve Carr (Ind), while Coun Tom Hollis (Ash Ind) abstained.

The vote being passed will allow the combined authority to come into being, and for mayoral elections to be held on May 2.

The combined authority will receive £38m annually for 30 years for transport, education, housing, regeneration and other projects.

The elected mayor will have the power to make some major decisions which would previously have been made in Whitehall.

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Speaking during the debate, Coun Ben Bradley MP (Con), council leader, said: “Regardless of who wins, new powers and funds will mean residents are better off.

“It’s a big opportunity – one we need to grab with both hands.

"It will help to address the chronic underfunding the region.

“It will make a lasting positive change in Nottinghamshire and the wider region.

"I can’t think of anyone who won’t support this.”

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Coun Kate Foale, Labour group leader, said: “This is the only deal we have but I am far from convinced it’s good for the county.

“Real devolution would tackle inequality, poverty and disadvantaged, and allow councils to take urgent action on the cost of living crisis.

“It shouldn’t be top-down instructions from Westminster by people who’ve not set foot in the midlands.”

Others argued that an elected mayor would help raise the profile of the East Midlands.

Coun Keith Girling (Con) said: “We have missed out on inward investment because the region doesn’t speak with one voice, compared to those with a single point of contact.”