The East Midlands could receive new powers to improve transport, control the education budget and build homes under a first-of-its-kind devolution deal if the government’s Leveling Bill is passed.
The initiative, announced by the Department for Levelling, Housing and Communities on Tuesday, would see a combined county municipal authority in Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire and the election of a mayor.
The incumbent in the new role would be tasked with addressing local priorities including education, infrastructure and housing construction, backed by a £38m-a-year investment fund, totaling £1.14bn over 30 years.
The mayor would be granted compulsory purchasing powers, the ability to designate municipal development areas and create municipal development corporations, similar to those seen in parts of London, to promote growth and build new homes.
The county’s combined municipal authority would have control over an adult education budget and the ability to increase control over transport infrastructure.
However, the new model of decentralization is dependent on parliamentary approval of the government’s flagship Leveling and Regeneration Bill and necessary secondary legislation, as well as public consultation.
This week the bill drew criticism from a group of all-party MPs on the Upgrading, Housing and Communities Select Committee, who said it lacked detail and did ‘not do much’ -thing to reassure” that the upgrade is “more than a slogan”.
Despite criticism at a relatively early stage of the bill’s passage, an election for mayor is expected to take place in 2024.
Announcing the deal on Tuesday, Leveling Up secretary Greg Clark said: “The East Midlands are renowned for their economic dynamism and they have the potential to lead the UK economy of the future.
Taking decisions out of Whitehall and putting them in the hands of local people is fundamental to scaling up and this deal does just that.
“For a long time I have believed that the East Midlands should have the devolved powers and budgets enjoyed by other parts of Britain and I am delighted to be able to do this in Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.
“I am impressed with how councils across the region have come together to agree the first such deal in the country, which will benefit residents of all major towns, cities and towns in the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire region. »
“Taking decisions out of Whitehall and putting them back in the hands of local people is fundamental to moving to the next level and this deal does just that.”
The new East Midlands Combined County Authority would be granted control of over £17m of additional funding for the construction of new homes on brownfields in 2024/25, subject to sufficient eligible projects for funding being identified .
An additional £18 million has been agreed to support housing priorities and drive carbon neutrality across the region.
In a joint statement, MP Ben Bradley, 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 of our cities and counties, and a greater voice for our region, to give ourselves the weight and influence we deserve and for us help realize our full potential. .
“This agreement would help make that a reality, creating more and better jobs through increased investment in our region, with increased economic growth, better transport, housing, job training and a cleaner environment. improved green, as we move towards carbon neutrality.
“This is 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 still much to agree, and this is the start of the journey, not the end. We are determined to build on this agreement over time, as other regions have done.