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Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire could vote for one mayor in 2017

06:30 16 February 2016

Local government Secretary Greg Clark

Local government Secretary Greg Clark

Archant

Voters could head to the ballot box to cast their vote for the first elected mayor of East Anglia as soon as next year, the communities secretary has said.

How did we get here?

The day after Scotland voted no to independence in September 2014, prime minister David Cameron announced talks which would lead to further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament.

Devolution was suddenly a very hot topic. The Conservatives had seized the initiative for devolution in England earlier that year, with chancellor George Osborne leading the drive for the creation of a Northern Powerhouse.

The idea was to redress the imbalance between North and South and to attract investment into northern cities and towns. To do that, a deal was struck for Greater Manchester to have an elected mayor from

2017, in return for the transfer of Whitehall powers over transport and health.

That was followed by deals for the Sheffield and Liverpool city regions, a north east combined authority, a Tees Valley combined authority and combined authorities for West Yorkshire and the West Midlands. It was also announced Cornwall would get devolved powers.

But, Cornwall apart, the government is still looking to show it is committed to devolution outside of the big urban areas. Which is where East Anglia comes in. Norfolk and Suffolk both separately expressed interest in securing devolution deals, but the government swiftly made clear it was looking for something more than a deal for single counties. The two counties were urged to work up a joint bid. Overtures to get Cambridgeshire involved as part of a deal appeared to be rebuffed, with councils in that county seemingly more interested in joining forces with the likes of Bedfordshire. But Greg Clark and Lord Heseltine have clearly knocked heads together. The next few weeks will see a fresh bid drawn up. If and when a deal is formally offered, each council will get to vote on whether they want to be part of it or not.

Senior cabinet minister Greg Clark, who has been tasked with overseeing the handover of powers to the regions, travelled to Cambridge yesterday to meet leaders from Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire in a bid to secure a three-county deal.

He said the East of England should not be on a “slower track” than Greater Manchester and the West Midlands, where deals have already been agreed.

Just weeks ago Cambridgeshire’s political top brass wrote to Norfolk and Suffolk to say they were not interested in joining forces, but leaders have agreed to look again following the meeting with the delegation from Westminster, which also included former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine.

Mr Clark said there had been a lot of enthusiasm about a potential devolution deal at the meeting in Cambridge, where new powers over housing, skills and transport from Westminster and Whitehall were discussed.

“All of the leaders and the Leps [local enterprise partnerships] will now talk to say what the concrete asks of a proposal will be, bearing in mind that different areas have different aspirations,” he said.

Questioned about whether a deal which would involve Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgshire councils was the only deal in on the table for the region, Mr Clark said: “I am not convinced that having micro-deals lives up to the potential of the area of being one of the strongest motors of the whole national economy at a time in its history when it is poised to become even more successful and celebrated than it is already.” And he was clear that new powers would have to come with an elected mayor.

“If you want to take powers away from secretaries of state and be that ambitious, and we do and have been in Manchester, then you need to have someone who will hold those powers with a mandate,” he said.

Mr Clark added that while a date for mayoral election had not been discussed, a 2017 poll was “possible”.

“I see no reason why the East of the country should be on a slower track than the north and the West Midlands,” he said. George Nobbs, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “It was an extremely positive meeting and all the people there have agreed to go away and urgently work on a practical set of proposals for a devolved authority that would include Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, including Peterborough. We expect to be working intensely on that over the next few days.”

18 comments

  • There has to be a box on the voting form which says "none of the above' putting your cross in there may make the politicians wake up although probably not

    Report this comment

    Rob44

    Thursday, February 18, 2016

  • More politicians. Just what we need.

    Report this comment

    bettycoltrane

    Thursday, February 18, 2016

  • Another tory fiddle to make people think we will get anything out of this. I would bet that anything coming from the tories as far as East Anglia is concerned will have many more negatives than positives. If not why won't they reveal all the details?

    Report this comment

    Rob44

    Wednesday, February 17, 2016

  • Greater Ipswich on its own will account for a massive 15% of the economic output of a combined Cambridgeshire, Norfolk & Suffolk Devo; or a colossal 25% of a Norolk & Suffolk Devo. You'd think that would give us a pretty big influence and say over what happens, but no. We have no representation at all on the all-powerful County Cabinet, and despite producing more than Greater Norwich they have 7 representatives on the LEP board versus just 3 for Ipswich (it used to be just 1 until GreaterIpswich.Org lobbied to address the disparity). You'd think we would speak with one powerful voice for such an important area, but instead we have one borough, one county, two districts, 2 MPs, 2 chambers, an unbalanced LEP underachieving for our area,

    Report this comment

    Mark Ling

    Tuesday, February 16, 2016

  • The Ginge, I know you have similar views. We have a key meeting of Greater Ipswich.Org this evening to discuss Devo and the rumoured SCDC & Waveney merger. If you can make contact thru the website, you are welcome to join us. Cheers, Mark

    Report this comment

    Mark Ling

    Tuesday, February 16, 2016

  • Devolution for Suffolk, Norfolk & Cambs must only be allowed to proceed with a balance of power and representation; balance between the three counties, balance between the rural counties and the three major urban areas of Greater Ipswich, Greater Norwich & Greater Cambridge; and balance between Greater Ipswich, Cambridge & Norwich themselves. Devolution will be impossible to govern based on the current bloated and inefficient structure of 18 districts, 3 boroughs and 3 county councils. A much more accountable and cost effective structure is for three Unitary Councils in Suffolk (greater Ipswich, east Suffolk & west Suffolk); and the same set up for Cambs & for Norfolk. See: GreaterIpswich.Org

    Report this comment

    Mark Ling

    Tuesday, February 16, 2016

  • Many OAP's, after having been lied to about paying for their care, are now facing up to that dilemma, David Brian, our farmers aren't too sure either, they want to hear whats being proposed in case we should leave the EU. There are many reasons Tory voters feel deceived. As for young Elliott Johnson's case, no news since last December, his parents must be livid with the cover up and non action. This proposal is another forced imposition of an extra job, we still pay for three county councils and their elections, when we should elect a governing body. But how? by the usual unfair disproportionate means? and will these people be accountable for their actions? Can Cambridge cllr's sway a decision that is controversial in Suffolk and or Norfolk? Everything about this devolution is shrouded in secrec y and distrust, just as the secret TTIP negotiations going on behind our backs.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, February 16, 2016

  • A common theme seems to 'bash the Tories' as they'll have their noses in the trough. But where are all those that voted them in?

    Report this comment

    Davidbrian552

    Tuesday, February 16, 2016

  • A common theme seems to 'bash the Tories' as they'll have their noses in the trough. But where are all those that voted them in?

    Report this comment

    Davidbrian552

    Tuesday, February 16, 2016

  • Thats why I say if the regional power comes in then the County Councils must go, most of what they do goes down to the District Councils, some goes up to Regional Council. But having Parish, District, County, Regional and then National Government is ridiculus. (Let alone the fact in Ipswich you have no Parish Councils so that level of very local accountability is not there and it means Ipswich loses out financialy) Suffolk and Norfolk CC must disapear in this new organisation. You would have in Suffolk: Greater Ipswich including Felixstowe and Shotly Penisulars plus Copdock, Capel St Mary, Claydon, Martlesham Heath, Kesgrave etc. East Suffolk with the merger of Suffolk Coastal and Waveney to make up the size for the lost part to Greater Ipswich. Central Suffolk taking in the remainder of Babergh and Mid Suffolk. West Suffolk Taking in Bury St Eds, Newmarket and towards Thetford. You could even juggle around the edges between what was Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambs to align the Districts. But 4 levels of Local Government is way too many.

    Report this comment

    The Ginge

    Tuesday, February 16, 2016

  • More jobs for the Tory Boys. A Mayor is the last thing we need - just another costly layer of protection and cover for Ministers. We waste enough of our time and money on PCC's already. We DON'T need them - we are all in it together?

    Report this comment

    Jackdslipper

    Tuesday, February 16, 2016

  • Makes sense. There are some issues that are too big for one county on its own to handle. One example springs to mind. That is the debacle of the King's Lynn incinerator. These units require a greater amount than one county produces to be viable. Hence an integrated approach would have saved money and angst. One police force, fire service, education authority etc. would actually reduce the numbers of little empires. Set the new administration in central(ish) Mildenhall where a new town looks like emerging and there you have it. Bring it on.

    Report this comment

    Green Ink from Tunbridge Wells

    Tuesday, February 16, 2016

  • This has nothing to do with Scotland nearly voting for In dependence, this has to do with keeping the Tory's safely in power, here in their bastions of support amongst the elderly and retired. To add to Ginge various valid points, what are the voters getting from this? Yesterdays announcement that we would keep our councils, and the cllr.s within, means that this is devolution light, easily disbanded should it not work, cause we don't really mean it, otherwise we would go for a wholesale central regional Government, in Ipswich by all means, why not, but the plan is to keep all the medieval arrangements, three tiers of councils, unfair voting, fraudulent postal voting, and those favourable boundary changes that are changed to keep A or B in power. Nothing at all in the devolution means real change, its rearranging the deckchairs. These three county's, some of whose politicians did not even want senior officers at the negotiations, will ensure that their party favouritism continues. We will not get a vote on these changes, all we get is to vote for some new post of mayor, with all the hum drum and expenses, a PA and secretary, a press officer etc. etc. But, we will all be asked to finance these moves, even when it becomes obvious that Scotland, should we vote to come out of the EU, will undertake another Independence vote which will be highly watched next time round, the Scots are largely pro Europe, they have no allures to let their country go to wreck and ruin via TTIP, US corporate takeover of our health service, social service and education. Take the NHS, some 206 MP's and Lords voted themselves a lucrative slice of the NHS privatisation to come, they knew that large international companies trying their luck in health provision will want to offer them large monies in future for a share of the tax take. So what we get from the Tory's are more Tory's in unwanted posts, no fair proportional votes for us, and less accountable decision making by self serving party politicians.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, February 16, 2016

  • A mayor, by definition, is the leader of a town or city. Whatever structure is put in place to run a larger region, let's hope they can find a more sensible name for the person who is chosen to lead it.

    Report this comment

    Wymspen

    Tuesday, February 16, 2016

  • Here we have the classic tory tactic of 'Empire Building' !.....'little america' here we become !....not only where crime is rampant....but justice depends on if your father is a friend of the local Sheriff !....for God's sake....I want Great Britain to remain with some decent values and standards other than worshipping the 'Green Back' dollar !....

    Report this comment

    freedomf

    Tuesday, February 16, 2016

  • Oh and the other outcome of this is that Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils disapear, there powers must go down to the Borough's with strategic work going up to the new Regional Power. Thus Endevour House can be used for the new Regional Powerhouse and Ipswich made a City on equal footing with Cambridge and Norwich. Believe me people untill this happens Ipswich looses every time.

    Report this comment

    The Ginge

    Tuesday, February 16, 2016

  • I would urge anybody in Ipswich to vote against this proposal. We have already seen the destruction wrought on out services by super regional bodies such as the Ambulance Service (St Johns Ambulance providing cover in Ipswich so that ambulances can go to that important area Norwich and North Norfolk. Stuff Ipswoch they can make do with amateurs because there is no one young enough to do it in Norfolk) the fire service Control Centre which closed Colchester Rd Station and now leads to Ipswich Town centre having 1 fire engine to cover 10,000 of people. Note that this is supported by the LEPS a non elected group of people who are based in Norwich, well Wyndham and whilst paying for the Norwich Northern Bypass will not entertain an Ipswich Northern Bypass. Or their next great big project duelling the A47 so even more jobs and trade go to Norwich, or the link via Cambridge to the University line linking Cambridge to Oxford and on to the South West with no direct link to Ipswich. The list goes on and on. The next little idea Norwich in 90, note the Ipswich in 60 has been dropped so that the intercity trains can bypass Ipswich to make Norwich non Stop in 90. So again Ipswich will be offered uncomfortable commuter stopy trains, we get a bad deal. Then they will give some sort of bribe to IBC by giving them a few extra powers so those politicians agree. What on earth has Ipswich got in common with North Norfolk, Kings Lynn etc etc. Note the only people talking about this is Norwich ancd Norfolk Councils as they are going bust because of the non incinerator they tried to build. Note the only talk of improvements is as last night on Look Norwich with Stuart Norwich White about the same that Gt Yarmouth and Kings Lynn have not gort high speed rail lines. So instead of upgrading the line from Felixstowe to Ely and on through Peterborough to provide Ipswich with the same East to West Link as Norwich enjoys now, no wwe are going to waste millions upgrading the lines to Norfolk again. I could go on to the 100's of other projects big and small, such as the lack of lottery funding in Ipswich compared to norwich and Cambridge which will continue under the new regional power no doubt based in Norwich. The only way Ipswich should agree is if the new Regional Powerhouse is based in Ipswich, the civil servants are based here for the whole region and all decisions and Regional Council meetings are held here, since we are the only location with rail links to Peterborugh, Cambridge, Norwich, Bury St Eds and London it makes sense. Lets be honest Norwich and Cambridge already have more inward investment from Government over the last 40yrs, so we must have a cast iron gurentee that the administration centre for East Anglia is based in Ipswich and the Northern Bypass and A12A14 junction upgrade and Ipswich in 60 on all trains is built within 5yrs. Then and only then does Ipswich get anything out of this otherwise forget it, oh but I forgot to mention the powers that be all those Torries will not let you vote on it, oh no the Norwich stitch up will happen without a referendum, I mean the Scots can have one but you can not you only come from Ipswich.

    Report this comment

    The Ginge

    Tuesday, February 16, 2016

  • It would just end up as another pointless talking-shop quango that would waste OUR money and get absolutely nothing done. They would spend 20 years talking about dualling the A47, building new railways and reducing unemployment, but none of it would actually happen

    Report this comment

    Rotciv

    Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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