Losing district councils could improve Lincolnshire funds, says county leader

Lincolnshire County Council Leader, Coun Martin Hill.
Lincolnshire County Council Leader, Coun Martin Hill.
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Lincolnshire County Council’s leader believes abolishing district councils could give the county more bargaining power with the Government.

Coun Martin Hill (Con) made the comments ahead of a meeting at 10.30am today (Friday), where he hopes to begin a discussion about the future of the county.

I don’t want to criticise South Kesteven District Council. This is just about where we can sensibly move forward.

Lincolnshire County Council leader Martin Hill

He thinks Lincolnshire does not get a fair deal from the Government, and taking away a tier of councils and working more closely with the police, health and other sectors could give the county more weight to push for devolved powers and better funding.

Coun Hill said: “It’s all part of a three-strand issue. The first is about accepting that the Government is going to go ahead with the balancing the books argument. Cuts are the order of the day across the public sector.

“We accept that, but too much of the burden should not fall on local Government.”

He added: “We can find more savings but we want the cuts spread more fairly. The funding formula is unfair to more rural areas.”

One solution, according to Coun Hill, would be to get rid of district councils. This would potentially mean more power for smaller authorities such as Stamford and Bourne town councils. Coun Hill believes this could save up to £30m per year.

He said the fact there was a new secretary of state for communities and local government, Greg Clark MP, meant now was the perfect time to open the discussion.

“I don’t want to criticise South Kesteven District Council,” he added. “This is just about where we can sensibly move forward.”

Labour councillor Phil Dilks sits on both sides of the debate, serving Deeping St James on both the county and district council. He said: “All areas of public services clearly need to find ways of closer working to deliver the services Lincolnshire people deserve - and pay for.

“But simply calling for another massive reorganisation diverts attention from failure to find real solutions. It would be hugely expensive, and may achieve little or no improvements for the public - as we saw with the billions wasted on the NHS reorganisation by David Cameron’s last government.”

“It could result in even more draconian cuts to the services that the most vulnerable in our society rely on.”

Follow reports and reactions from the meeting live from 8am at www.stamfordmercury.co.uk/live/event?1246525.

People can watch the meeting live online at www.lincolnshire.gov.uk.