The battle lines are being drawn over the political future of South Holland with the district and county councils due to go up against each other.
Last week Lincolnshire County Council announced it would bid to help create a ‘Greater Lincolnshire’ authority to amalgamate all the councils in the county into one body.
But South Holland District Council leader Lord Gary Porter says the authority could make a bid to link up with fellow district councils including possibly Boston, East Lindsey and South Kesteven and create a new unitary authority between themselves.
It’s amid concerns that a Lincolnshire-wide authority, which would also encompass the areas currently covered by North and North East Lincolnshire councils, would be too large.
Residents in South Holland are currently under what is known as a two tier local government system.
Lincolnshire County Council oversees county-wide things such as highways and social services.
South Holland District Council runs more local services including bin collection and car parks.
Proposed new councils would be what’s called unitary authorities and oversee everything.
The moves have come this week after a Zoom call was held with representatives of all Lincolnshire councils and Simon Clarke MP in which they were invited to apply for local government reorganisation.
Lincolnshire County Council quickly announced it’s in favour of a Greater Lincolnshire authority in conjunction with both North and North East Lincolnshire councils.
Its members previously voted down a 2016 bid for devolution.
In a statement county council leader Martin Hill said: “The minister indicated the government were keen for the county to progress a devolution proposal and indicated this would give both more power and more money to Greater Lincolnshire.
“As a county council we are excited by this prospect and are keen to ensure we are at the front of the queue to get this prize for Greater Lincolnshire residents.
“We will be building on the work we have already done for the previous devolution bid and are confident we can hit the government’s timescales of early autumn.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for Greater Lincolnshire that we don’t want to lose out on.”
District council leader Lord Porter had been for devolution in 2016 but has concerns over the new bid, particularly as he says the government would like bids submitted by September so legislation can be passed by October 7 to cancel next year’s county council elections.
He said: “I think what will happen is there will be four or five competing bids and South Holland will look for the one which is most beneficial to local tax payers.
“We can’t support what Martin Hill wants as what he wants is bad for the people of South Holland.
“Martin has put forward a preference without the backing of his council, or even the backing of his group.
“He wants what’s best for him when he should be doing what’s best for the tax payers.
“It should be about saving money for tax payers and not losing our local democracy.
“You could get to the point you’re losing connection with the people you serve and that are around with you and get to the stage of losing local government altogether and have the government say how and when your bins get collected rather than at a local level.
“One thing at South Holland we don’t want to be in the same council as Lincoln city.
“A city would suck up so much of the resources.
“I’d be interested to see how much on this is being spent on expensive consultation fees too which is something we will have to do some work on.
“Our MPs in the south of the county are not supporting it. Only the northern ones.
“Lincolnshire used to be three councils so that’s an ok amount.”
“There’s the possibility of creating an authority with Boston and East Lindsey, and if we needed to, our neighbours at South Kesteven as we have a lot in common with them.
“That will still be small enough to know about the place and it would be more cost effective than something much bigger.”
South Holland and the Deepings MP Sir John Hayes has voiced his opposition to a Greater Lincolnshire authority.
He said: “Local government needs to benefit the local area and that includes decision being made by those that know the local area and by those that can be held account by local people.
“A single authority based in Lincolnshire seems to be too large and unwieldy.”