Derby Telegraph Column – August 2015

The summer recess from Parliament is a welcome time to take stock after the election.

Far from being just a holiday I’ve been using the time to meet up with local businesses, community and charity groups to discuss their issues and priorities.

I’m also meeting all GP practices regarding issues with local health services and planned changes.

I’ve also been following up on promises made in the run-up to the election and welcome news that the improvements at Alfreton station are expected to be done by next spring.

This summer may, however, turn out to be very important in the political future of Derbyshire as a county.

As part of Government plans to devolve responsibilities and spending power from Whitehall back to local communities, last week representatives from Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire local authorities met with Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Greg Clark to discuss how this could work in Derbyshire.

Elsewhere, responsibility and funding for important issues like job creation, skills, housing, transport and even health have been proposed for devolution from Whitehall.

Having a greater local say in taking these important decisions would, hopefully, lead to better services meeting local needs and ensure we don’t miss out on our share of national funding.

There are many questions, though. How would those taking these important decisions be accountable to local people. The Government believes elected mayors are the best way, as for London. Do we want an elected mayor for Derbyshire, or should there be one covering Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire or even a wider area?

If we had an elected mayor would we still need all the local councils we have? Most of my constituents elect county councillors, borough councillors and parish or town councillors.

Would we really want four separate levels of local government? If not, which should go?

Whilst I can see the appeal of what has been proposed so far, I want to make sure that this is what local people and businesses want.

I shall continue to follow the proposals and developments closely and I invite my constituents to contact me to let me know what their thoughts on what has been proposed so far. Please contact me at nigel.mills.mp@parliament.uk to have your say on the future of representation in Derbyshire!