Our discussions with Government over a devolution deal for Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire have been long and arduous, but now appear to be reaching a conclusion.
The deal brings with it a once in a generation opportunity for local people to take back control over many of the big decisions affecting their lives.
Why should Government bureaucrats based in London, with little idea where places like Mansfield, Sutton, Hucknall and Eastwood are – let alone what the big issues are for local people – continue to have so much sway over issues like public transport, housing, jobs and skills?
The benefits to the whole of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire are many and numerous. They include:
• 55,000 new jobs
• 77,000 extra homes
• At least £900m in investment in local infrastructure
• Major improvements to public transport, including an oyster card-style system
• Greater control over local bus services.
Being part of the team that has developed the proposals and is negotiating the deal has given me an insight into how it could deliver the growth, jobs and higher wage economy we all crave. As a Worksop resident and long-serving councillor, the interests of local people are always at the forefront of my thinking and I passionately believe that areas outside the cities of Nottingham and Derby would get more than their fair share of the benefits this deal would bring.
Contrary to some speculation, the subject of health provision has formed no part of our discussions and is not included in the deal on the table, so I can reassure people that devolution can have no impact whatsoever on the future of valuable local hospitals and health services.
I’d urge you to take a look at the full deal document, which has been published on both the county and district councils websites and make up your own mind. This is an opportunity that Nottinghamshire simply cannot afford to let slip through its fingers.