OBSERVER: Answers are needed before final decision

Opinion
Opinion

Following on from my comments in recent weeks about Lincolnshire County Council’s proposal to take over – or ‘merge’ – with Peterborough City Council and possibly NE Lincolnshire, I see Peterborough’s leader has confirmed talks are ongoing and that plans could be ready for approval in six months’ time.

It is to be hoped that it won’t be left purely to the councils involved to make the decision: surely something as big and important as this should go the electorate to agree, certainly if the proposal is that the counties should amalgamate.

The important point from Peterborough’s view is that ‘there would need to be an advantage to Peterborough and for it not just to be a nice thing to do. It’s got to give us better services or save us money’.

Anyone visiting that city in recent months will have noticed the huge amount of investment being poured into their infrastructure to service all the business they have on the outskirts of the city. I don’t think anyone living there would be prepared to see a reduction in that ongoing investment; meanwhile our own county’s problem, as confirmed by the leader of the council, is that while we have one of the largest areas in the country it is relatively small in population. However, nowhere does he acknowledge any reasons we are so sparse, notably the lack of good roads and the lack of rail services. Until we get those we can’t expect a similar business ‘boom’ to that experienced down the road in Peterborough.

A larger area would increase the number of people and, apparently, increase central government funding. But that funding would still have to service Peterborough, or any other area taken into the ‘merger’, and each would still want their fair share of that funding. The suggestion is that there would be vast savings, but would not an enlarged area also lead to an increase in administrative jobs? The implication is that the savings suggested would come from not having such a large wage bill: are we to assume, then, that administrative jobs would increase at the expense of others? Plans may be there in six months but there’s still a lot to consider before a final decision.