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County’s pooling bid turned down

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A county’s hopes of submitting a late application to pool its business rates with neighbours look to have been dashed by civil servants.

Council leaders in Lincolnshire had hoped they would be able to lodge a list of councils with the Department for Communities & Local Government but they were told they did not have the necessary information.

The department previously stated that councils had to submit an expression of interest in pooling in July, ahead of an October deadline for finalised proposals.

A letter to pooling councils dated 13 August introduced a new deadline of 10 September, requested a finalised list of pool members and asked for “sight” of governance arrangements.

Gary Porter, leader of South Holland DC and the LGA Conservative group, said: “CLG wouldn’t accept our list - they wanted the governance arrangements that aren’t needed until October. In the eyes of civil servants it means we have lost our chance but if our officers can convince me that we can get the governance arrangements in place for October I am going to argue that they [DCLG officials] are misinterpreting the rules.

“We were late but only for the expression of interest. The first serious bit of information - the list of councils - we had in time.”

Cllr Porter said the deadline for an initial expression of interest, back in July, had been missed in Lincolnshire because local officers had decided against submitting an expression of interest.

DCLG had not responded to a request for comment as LGC went to press.

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