Erewash votes to stay out of combined Derbyshire authority

Ilkeston Town Hall

Ilkeston Town Hall

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Erewash could be isolated by a council decision to stay out of a combined authority – a move which could mean “throwing away millions in investment”.

At the full council meeting at Ilkeston Town Hall, councillors decided against the motion to join a united authority for Derby and Derbyshire by a margin of three votes.

With 21 votes “for” and 24 votes “against”, the council cancelled a move to bring closer union between pre-existing councils.

Labour party opponents accused the Tory-led council of turning their backs on millions in local investment, from a plan aiming to devolve more power from central government and bring more funding to local councils.

Labour leader Alex Phillips said: “Erewash Tories have turned their backs on golden opportunity for better transport links, investment and housing for Erewash residents. Last night they demonstrated just how out of touch they really are with the need for investment in our borough. It was definitely a case of self- interest and politics with a very small ‘p’.”

“Conservative leaders up and down Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire voted in favour of a Combined Authority and yet here in Erewash the Conservative Leader voted against his own motion. So much for a Northern Powerhouse – it would seem that Erewash is an economic wasteland under Conservative rule.”

Erewash Borough Council held a public consultation in January.

Their website said: “All 10 Derby and Derbyshire councils are working together towards combined authority status.”

Leader of the council, Conservative Chris Corbett said that essentially voters chose to protect Green Belt land from potential development.

He added: “Joining would be mean handing some powers over, and housing was one of the powers that the combined authority would have taken from us.”

While all other councils who have voted on the proposal support the combined authority, Cllr Corbett said Erewash is in a unique position as it sits between Nottingham and Derby.

He added: “The council already works closely with Nottingham and Nottinghamshire on key areas of economic development including housing and transport. It would not make sense for the council to align itself with one Combined Authority as this could impact on the economic prosperity of the borough.

“There are also a number of differences in the powers set out by both the proposed Combined Authorities which has also caused some confusion – the Department for Communities and Local Government has intimated that the powers should be broadly the same for adjacent Combined Authorities.

He added: “I do wish that local Labour politicians would stop trying to drag down Erewash, it’s a great place to live with lots of green fields, as well as manufacturing and employment.

“We believe that making an irreversible decision to join the Combined Authority would have a major impact on housing and transport in Erewash to the detriment of our valuable green belt areas. The council has made the right decision for Erewash residents at this time.”

Combined authorities were introduced by the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 and there are now five such authorities incorporating cities and their surrounding urban areas, including Birmingham and Greater Manchester.