Government agrees main priority for Lincolnshire councils should be Covid recovery

Date Published: 19 October 2020

District councils in Lincolnshire have welcomed the news that Central Government supports their long-standing view that “now is not the right time” for local government reorganisation in the county.

Earlier last week, all seven districts – Boston Borough Council, City of Lincoln Council, East Lindsey District Council, North Kesteven District Council, South Holland District Council, South Kesteven District Council and West Lindsey District Council – were made aware of a letter sent to the Leader of Lincolnshire County Council, Martin Hill, from government confirming it was no longer seeking applications for local government reorganisation in Lincolnshire. Councils have, instead, been asked to focus on the county’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ever since Lincolnshire County Council wrote to government in the middle of the pandemic and asked to be considered for reorganisation, the county’s seven district councils have been adamant that it was not the right time and they want to see “real reform, not rushed reorganisation.”

Now, Government has agreed with the districts’ position, stating: “given the pressures councils face this winter with the pandemic... it would not be right at this time for them to further progress or focus on ideas for reform.”

Throughout the pandemic, Lincolnshire’s district councils have led from the front in terms of supporting their communities, making a meaningful and significant difference to residents and businesses. This work will continue without the distraction and strain on valuable resources that potential reorganisation was creating.

Lincolnshire’s district councils have been clear from the beginning of the process: reform is needed in Lincolnshire but it needs to deliver a solution that works for the county’s communities in the long term.  

The leaders of Lincolnshire’s seven district councils jointly stated: “We are pleased that Central Government has put the potential for local government reorganisation in Lincolnshire on hold for the time being. This enables district councils to put our full focus on protecting the county’s most vulnerable and keeping essential services running during the pandemic.

“We have been very consistent and clear in our message: now is not the right time for local government re-organisation due to COVID and it’s reassuring that Government has shown its support for our view. 

“The district councils in Lincolnshire have a long history of successfully working together for the good of our communities. This will continue and, where appropriate, we will seek out new ways of collaborating to deliver services at a local level as we continue to work tirelessly for the good of our residents. They are our number one priority and will remain so as we lead the fight against the pandemic.  

“We will continue to deliver the county’s recovery from the pandemic while also awaiting the Government’s white paper on devolution. It is essential that if additional powers and funding are being transferred from Central Government in the future then we must ensure the very best deal for our residents. 

“If Government decides to resurrect its plans for devolution or reorganisation in Lincolnshire, our residents and businesses can be assured that we are well prepared to respond and secure the best outcomes for the residents and businesses of our districts.”

Seven district leaders