As part of the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper, Derbyshire has secured a county deal after collaboration between Derbyshire County Council, Derby City Council and the eight district or borough councils in the area.
Though figures have not yet been announced, the deal will bring extra investment to support economic growth in the area, alongside the transfer of certain powers from central Government to a local level.
Scott Knowles, Chief Executive of the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce, said that the deal was a chance for the Government to show their commitment to levelling up and address the funding gap between Derbyshire and other areas of the country.
“After lots of rhetoric, it’s an important moment to finally see what levelling up will mean in practice under this Government.
“Any vehicle that results in more powers being given to local areas is, in principle, a positive step as it should equip cities, counties and regions with the tools to shape their places as they see fit and use their local knowledge to target the issues that matter to them.
“It’s promising to see Derbyshire named in the first cohort to be invited to agree new county deals. It’s crucial these mechanisms lead to enhanced public investment, given the East Midlands has historically received the least funding per head of any UK region.
“Therefore, should our counties take up the devolution offer, we would expect to see this result in more money for our areas in matters that have been neglected for too long, such as our transport infrastructure, skills, education, digital infrastructure, and research and development.”
This may lead to the introduction of an executive county mayor for Derbyshire, with the Department for Levelling Up expressing their desire to see high-profile, directly elected leaders in more areas.
This figure would have similar powers to Andy Burnham and Dan Jarvis in Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire, but it is unclear what this could mean for the existing local government structure.
Derbyshire has been nominated as an educational investment area as part of this levelling up project. This means that schools in the county will benefit from targeted support to drive educational improvements, including programmes to tackle illiteracy and innumeracy, as well as to support talented teachers in high-priority subjects to remain teaching within local schools.
The deal will also give local leaders greater control over buses and trains, and could see a shift to a London-style public transport system.