‘Boston votes for powers to be handed down from government’ was the proud headline on the council website last week with the news that the cabinet had voted to join all the other councils in Lincolnshire to become one authority – and in the process decide to have an elected mayor.
“First of all, there has been a long and meticulous public consultation exercise about this. The public has indicated that it is broadly in agreement with devolution,” said our council leader. According to the report which was discussed a grand total of 177 responses came from the public. Not exactly a ringing endorsement from them, I would suggest.
“The only real sticking point was the requirement for a new combined authority to have an elected mayor. Some were concerned that this would be another needless level of bureaucracy that we can ill afford,” he went on. He was certainly right about this last sentence! At a time when we are being told of cut upon cut to ‘save’ money (in some cases then charging ratepayers for services they expect to receive from their council tax payments) it seems more than folly to charge even more to pay an elected mayor (and staff?).
“There will be ten equal partners in the new combined authority – each with the same value vote. Boston’s vote will have the same value as Lincoln’s. The elected mayor will also have a vote, but anything proposed will have to have support from a two-thirds majority. I currently represent the smallest authority in the partnership and I am the chairman, answering the criticism that Boston might be muscled out.” That’s comforting!
When this new authority comes to fruition I presume there will be many present council staff being made redundant then? Or perhaps moved to the new mayor’s office? Of course not. It will be yet another case of duplication of services with the left not knowing what the right is doing – and we will be paying for it. But no doubt there will be a few ‘gongs’ in the pipeline somewhere at the end of the exercise.
Incidentally, East Lindsey Council – slightly bigger in size to Boston borough? – managed to get 661 responses to their consultation.