Keith Ireland, the new chief executive for Lincolnshire County Council hopes that a bid for greater devolved powers by four authorities across the East Midlands will actually bring decision making closer to local people.
Mr Ireland, who took over from Tony McArdle two weeks ago, told Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Jaines that he ‘very much’ supported the ‘strategic alliance’ of Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire.
Mr Ireland said: “The more we can collaborate together, the more we can work together to encourage government to give us devolved powers.
“Whether it’s formal or informal, I think there’s certainly a lot of work we can do and we’ll be playing our part.
“Bringing powers from government to the local area for local politicians is incredibly positive. It’s good for the people, it brings decision making closer to the people and therefore you get better services.”
Mr Ireland said it was his raison d’être to see collaborative working across authorities to ‘deliver excellent public services’.
“I’ve got lots of commercial experience with regard to council services and making them commercial and I will work with the executive member and my colleagues to develop that further in partnership with district councils and the businesses,” he said.
Mr Ireland also pushed partnership working when it came to the controversial Serco contract.
“I think the key thing is whoever our partner is we need to work collaboratively with them. The councillors made a decision to work with an external partner.
“We absolutely need to make that work and we will make that work.
“There have been some blips but we’ll put those right.”
He called the council campaign for fairer funding ‘very positive’ adding: “The leader’s campaign is very strong - the leader and his team are promoting that campaign and their voice is being heard in Government. We look forward to getting a better settlement in due course.”
Mr Ireland acknowledged the Government was focussed on Brexit, but hoped funding would move on soon after.
He said the county council itself was doing its own preparation work for different Brexit scenarios, but again said the ‘key thing’ was to work with partners.