Lincolnshire’s ‘Super Council’ plans plunged into chaos

Lincolnshire County Council offices in Lincoln. Photo: Rob Foulkes EMN-161219-160126001
Lincolnshire County Council offices in Lincoln. Photo: Rob Foulkes EMN-161219-160126001

Ambitious plans for a new ‘Super Council’ to govern Lincolnshire have been plunged into chaos.

Lincolnshire County Council has been forced to ditch proposals to hold a public referendum about creating a unitary authority.

The referendum would have been held on May 4, running alongside the County Council elections.

Effectively, it would have been administered by other authorities in the county - including the district councils.

However, it has emerged the district councils have taken legal advice and are now refusing to co-operate with the referendum.

Faced with a massive bill for holding its own referendum, the county council has shelved plans and is considering other options.

County Council leader Martin Hill has stressed he is determined to press ahead with the plans.

He has cross-party support at County Hall, with UKIP leader Colin Mair saying he supported the principal of a unitary authority.

A report on the latest developments will be presented at a full meeting of the county council next Friday (February 24).

It confirmed the district council’s returning officers has been approached about conducting an advisory poll (referendum).

The report adds: “Their response has been to engage a QC (‘Queen’s Counsel’ lawyer) and to challenge the proposal on a wide range of legal grounds.”

The report goes on to state that challenging the district’s legal position would effectively be too expensive - particularly at a time when all authorities are facing massive final problems.

The county council claims a new unitary authority would save taxpayers around £150 million over the next five years and lead to lower council tax bills.

The latest developments come after a previous plan for a ‘Super Council’ were scrapped - ironically after the county council vetoed the idea because the new authority would have been led by a directly-elected mayor.

Interestingly, the latest proposal does not include a mayor but would see the county council and other authorities - including the district councils - scrapped.