Nottingham city councillors vote in favour of 'not perfect' devolution deal

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Nottingham city councillors have agreed to the creation of an East Midlands combined authority to help the region gain greater controls and more money from the Government.

Nottinghamshire County Council has also voted in favour of the £1.14bn agreement, part of which will see a mayor elected on May 2 next year to cover the combined authority of Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Derby and Derbyshire.

The combined authority will receive £38m annually for 30 years and have greater controls over how money is spent on transport, education, housing, and the environment.

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During an extraordinary full council meeting on December 7, city councillors unanimously agreed to the creation of the East Midlands Combined County Authority.

Nottingham City Council has voted in favour of the devolution agreement deal. Photo: OtherNottingham City Council has voted in favour of the devolution agreement deal. Photo: Other
Nottingham City Council has voted in favour of the devolution agreement deal. Photo: Other

Coun David Mellen (Lab), the leader of the council, said: “We are here today in this chamber to move this report and conclude a journey we started about two years ago.

“This is a significant day for our city and for us in the East Midlands, it is an unprecedented step.

“This is not about extra bureaucracy and it’s not really about more layers of local government.

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"It is more about investment in our region, in our city, an estimated £4bn flowing into the region over the next 30 years.

“This is about working with our neighbouring authorities to do what’s best for the people we serve.

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"Securing funding for more jobs and skills, homes, and further improve our transport infrastructure and the environment.

“Devolution helps to address historic under-investment in the East Midlands. We have for too long been bottom of the league for investment in infrastructure and transport in particular.”

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The £1.14bn, criticised by some as a minor amount compared to other devolution deals, comes in addition to the devolution of the adult skills budget of £50m a year and the city region sustainable transport settlement of more than £1.5bn over five years, which comes amid the cancellation of HS2.

East Midlands investment zones will also help bring in up to £160m through tax relief and funding for green technologies.

Coun Steve Battlemuch (Lab) argued the deal could help push for the potential redrawing of city boundaries, which currently restrict the amount of council tax raised.

More than 80 per cent of properties in Nottingham belong to bands A and B, resulting in a lower tax yield compared to some other cities.

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He said: “Economic development does not start and end at these tight city boundaries that we have.

"I hope this devolution deal will lead to greater cooperation with the councils on our borders.

He also said the deal would help the region shout louder for better transport investment, particularly following the cancellation of HS2.

He continued: “While we can get down to London on a train in an hour and 40 minutes, it is ridiculous that it takes probably longer than that to get to Birmingham 50 miles away.

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"We need to start using this power that we are going to have as a bigger region.”

“However, this extra resource is not a substitute for the millions we have lost over the last decade.

“This city has lost £100m a year, lets not forget that.

But let’s take this deal for what it is.

"It is not perfect, it needs improvement, but it is the first of a step of East Midlands devolution.”