Leicester and Leicestershire to get more independence from Whitehall
Leicester and Leicestershire are to get more power to decide for themselves how they spend their budgets, the Government has announced.
The move - called City Deals - aims to give areas more power to help them thrive.
Under the scheme, the city and county will have more power to decide how to use their budgets to meet local needs, such as shaping public transport and encouraging new businesses to start up.
In return, the areas must demonstrate they have a strong plan for local growth.
The Government said it would work closely with the areas to negotiate a deal over the next year.
Making the announcement last night, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council would be part of the Whitehall scheme to create jobs and spearhead economic growth.
He said: "Even more places will be free from Whitehall control and have the tools to power their own growth. These deals help cities and their wider areas make once in a generation changes that will be felt by everyone across their region.
"Letting go of power and money doesn't come naturally to Whitehall. Over time, the economic importance of other parts of the country has been devastatingly downplayed, as the economic elite have narrowed the debate towards a London-centric view.
"Rather than let our industries and communities wither, we need to free up cities outside of London that have their own unique selling points."
The Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP), Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council joined forces to put forward the City Deal bid last November.
Under the scheme, the LLEP and councils will pool some of their land and budgets to achieve transport improvements and developments, in return for extra Government powers and control of funding.
A series of negotiations will now take place with the Government to determine the details of the City Deal.
LLEP chairman Andrew Bacon said: “This City Deal is a genuine opportunity for us to influence uplift in business growth and job creation.
“Giving control to local authorities will ensure that delivery of economic growth schemes and how money is spent is managed on a local level, by those who understand the needs of the local area.”
City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: “I welcome this very positive Government announcement on the awarding of a City Deal for Leicester and Leicestershire.
“We will now enter into detailed negotiations with the Cabinet Office to agree the support that can be provided on delivering the new employment and business opportunities I have outlined in Leicester’s Economic Action Plan.
“I hope that the City Deal will give Leicester priority status to attract new Government grants in the future and look forward to working with my county and district council and LLEP colleagues to bring new investment into the area.”
Nick Rushton, leader of Tory-run Leicestershire County Council, said: “This bid could lead to significant changes in our area, such as unlocking and speeding up delivery of development.
“It will help satisfy future growth needs of businesses and have a great impact on our construction industry and its supply chains, creating thousands of new jobs and apprenticeships.
“I’m keen to work with the business community, the city mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, and the district councils, to benefit the entire area.”
The deal will allow both authorities to pool land and funding, so that they can take more control of development priorities and building infrastructure.
It will also allow them to keep additional business rate income, which could mean that fewer services have to be cut.
Some 28 areas are now part of the City Deal scheme, which is part of proposals to increase the amount of government spending local authorities across England can control.