COLUMN: Move to combined authority is not about giving up powers in the Derbyshire Dales

Ballot Box. Rui Vieira/PA Wire
Ballot Box. Rui Vieira/PA Wire

I don’t blame anyone with a passing interest in politics for wrongly assuming that talk of a new combined authority (CA) for Derby and Derbyshire means we are moving toward a single local government organisation that serves everyone in the county.

Let me be clear that this proposal is not about the councils involved giving up their individuals powers – and we are certainly not creating unitary local government.

Basically the plan is that leaders of the councils in Derby and Derbyshire that get involved will meet together in a forum focussed on economic development, regeneration and transport.

We already have a joint committee for the same area that does a similar job, but the new CA will have legal status as a vehicle for holding Government funding - and it gives the councils involved more flexibility on how we spend that money.

My ambition is that we will use it to support our people here in the Derbyshire Dales by creating more affordable homes and better paid jobs for you.

So the Combined Authority ‘prize’ is accessing Government funding for economic development.

And if we are talking about a prize draw, the good news is that Derbyshire Dales District Council is set to be in two draws at the same time! We are already a member of the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority and - subject to a decision by my fellow councillors - we could also be in the new Derby and Derbyshire CA when it is formally created around this time next year.

In the meantime, we will continue to work with our Peak District partners beyond CA boundaries and lobby hard on behalf of rural areas and needs.

HAVE YOUR SAY!

What do you think to the plans for a combined authority across Derbyshire? The proposals would mean all the councils across the county could act as one authority. We want to hear what you think! Send your views to news@matlockmercury.co.uk.