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Shadow chancellor says Labour wants to create Suffolk/Norfolk eastern “powerhouse”

10:35 05 December 2014

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls responds to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne following the Autumn Statement to MPs in the House of Commons, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday December 3, 2014. See PA story POLITICS Main. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls responds to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne following the Autumn Statement to MPs in the House of Commons, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday December 3, 2014. See PA story POLITICS Main. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

A combined Suffolk and Norfolk eastern “powerhouse” could be created by Labour with devolved transport and skills powers from Westminster.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said it would “make sense” for the district and county councils to join forces as a “county region” with a “joint plan” for the area.

While he made clear there was a debate to be had about where a combined authority boundary would lie, he said powers would be up for grabs.

Combined authorities already exist; in Greater Manchester 10 councils joined forces in 2011 and are set to get major powers and an elected mayor.

Chancellor George Osborne said in his Autumn Statement on Wednesday that his “door was open” to other cities that wanted to follow suit.

But Mr Balls said it would be ridiculous for the Norfolk and Suffolk area to have one elected person and it should not miss out on the same powers and “accept a second class deal”.

“We need a Midlands powerhouse, a Northern powerhouse, we need a Eastern region Norfolk/Suffolk powerhouse,” he said.

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere, who was a strong supporter of a unitary authority for Ipswich, welcomed what he described as the “commitment of the Labour Party to real devolution of powers and revenue to local areas”.

He added: “It may well make sense for counties to work closer together – Suffolk and Norfolk are already doing this in the New Anglia LEP.”

But he said there was a “big question” over how it would work in practice in areas with two-tier local government as there was a “real imbalance between the resources of district and county councils.

Conservative Suffolk County Council leader Mark Bee said a rush for a new structure could completely “paralyse” all the good work the counties were already doing together.

“We are trying to drive down the savings we are having to make. I, for one, would not want to have to go through the whole issue of a reorganisation at this point because we don’t have the time or money to invest in it when we are trying to go through the savings programme. The way I would see this is we have got to build good working relationships across boundaries - county and party boundaries to drive out these savings.
“The danger is we change the government first and that is all we do and all we talk about.”

In Norfolk, county council leader George Nobbs said he was heartened that Ed, as a Norwich boy, had clearly identified there is a wider identity of East Anglia, of which Norfolk and Suffolk is the core.

“I am confident that Labour is taking our time over this and is listening to people on the ground. There is no need to rush this matter. It is essential that if we are to have any sort of parity with the rest of the UK there must be comparable scale authorities.”

“I am passionately in favour of this. I find there is an enthusiasm in other counties for this. I look forward to talking to leaders in Suffolk, and Essex and Cambridgeshire to talk about how we can move forward to get the best deal.”

But Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said it showed how completely “divorced from reality” Mr Balls was and the last thing anyone wanted was another tier of Government.

“I think we need fewer MPs and local authorities combining where they can. This is a potty idea.”

Labour’s last major attempt to devolve power in England was rejected by voters in the North-East in 2004.

Mr Balls said: “Clearly in East Anglia there is a debate about how this would happen and where you draw the boundaries. It certainly makes sense that it should be Norfolk and Suffolk, and we have to find a way within that to involve both tiers of Government in Norfolk and Suffolk.”

“We want to negotiate devolution in those key economic areas for the county region of Norfolk and Suffolk. People will debate whether that is the best area, and if we should go wider than that. There is a question about where Cambridgeshire fits, but that is something that rather than imposing a blueprint from the centre, we want to see what people come forward to us with.”

Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia LEP said: “We welcome the call for wider devolution across the UK and, together with our business, education and local authority partners, are now looking at how we can play a greater role in future decision making in major infrastructure and skills projects, business growth and enterprise.

“We and our partners already have a proven track record in this area, securing two City Deals and a Lep-wide Growth Deal as well as developing a high-performing Enterprise Zone.

“With our local partners we are working on key schemes that will deliver thousands of jobs and houses as well as support for businesses and hundreds of new apprenticeships for Norfolk and Suffolk.”

16 comments

  • Hats off to Ed Balls for providing another reason not to vote labour, as if the u-turning GNobb with the charisma of a slug wasn't enough! Norfolk County Council completely ignore the west of the county, as do Suffolk, so any combination of these two huge counties would focus solely on the eastern strip between Norwich and Ipswich. How does this improve things for the counties as a whole? It doesn't. West Norfolk provides the biggest chunk of council tax revenue and gets s@d all in return, split Norfolk, let the west govern itself.

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Wednesday, December 10, 2014

  • Perhaps home rule for East Anglia might prove a better option. The classic divide and rule strategy adopted by most politicians is counter productive. We already have a good solid commercial foundation in East Anglia on which to build a major powerhouse for business, the economy and its citizens. By working together effectively in true partnership this vision could be achieved relatively quickly. If we don't this news article will be repeated in 20 years time only the situation will be worse. People don't seem to grasp the fact that MPspoliticians of whatever their political persuasion work for us. Time for change.

    Report this comment

    Grey Fox

    Monday, December 8, 2014

  • My comments was posted on sunday 14.48 and is held up in the censors office.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Sunday, December 7, 2014

  • well said Martin, but this is the normal state in a FPTP election, the majority who don't vote give away their votes to those who vote by post, and we all know how that is done. Postal voting forms and their release is now more important to local candidates then their glossy party pamphlets, or wishlist as its also known as. Mr. Ball and his wife Yvette are millionaires, just as Ms Harman and the rest of Labours front bench, these two claimed for travel costs for their children's school trip across London, just because they can. There is no difference anymore between these establishment puppets and the designed default for this 'voter despondency' is the clown Farage, a lazy, foul mouthed MEP who is also a millionaire but pleads poverty. I'd love to meet his immigrant wife and ask her what attracted her to him.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Sunday, December 7, 2014

  • GNobbs was elected by a massive 1061 souls in Crome - on the basis of 14.48% of the electorate (49% of a 29.55% turnout). He shouldn't be running a whelk stall, let alone a County Hall Cabinet-by-default, still less a 'combined authority Eastern powerhouse'. dontberidiculous. no sooner was he elected than he reneged upon his manifesto promise... he should stand as a Tory PPC next May

    Report this comment

    martin wallis

    Friday, December 5, 2014

  • More of the same should, would if we only could, another basket full of unlaid eggs, fancy promises whilst agreeing to and shadowing every Tory policy that comes along. party politics at its worth from the man who advised Bliar not to go ahead with the financial regulation bill in 2006, he's got form.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, December 5, 2014

  • Much local politics is a mystery. Does anyone understand the rational of Dan Poulters's constituency? Should have divided up Ipswich properly into two constituencies so at least Ipswich would have one capable MP now. Good idea to consolidate local representation in Norfolk and Suffolk but first Suffolk needs capable representatives who can fight Suffolk's corner otherwise we will end up with greater Norfolk and Suffolk will end up with an ever thinner stick.

    Report this comment

    amsterdam81

    Friday, December 5, 2014

  • Get ready for your new life in 5 months time, Gummer.

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Spork-Pies

    Friday, December 5, 2014

  • Bit of a typo error or two. Meant to say Norwich fans could get used to watching a winning team again. Strange all these Labour people have a sudden interest in the East. For years they couldn`t have cared less about us. They were more interested in their folks upt north. I suppose this is Labour`s attempt to kick the idea of English MPs only to vote on matters only English into the long grass by having all these power houses. They are so transparent.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Friday, December 5, 2014

  • If we also merged the football teams Norwich fans could get used again to watching a team a win. That would be a novelty for them.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Friday, December 5, 2014

  • This is all a desperate smoke screen being put out by Labour to try to stop English votes only for English matters. He and the rest of them know it is untenable to allow devolved regions to continue to have a say on English matters. Local devolution was rejected in the only referendum held. As for him being in charge of the finances - not again please especially when he has already said he wants to have even more borrowing.

    Report this comment

    andy

    Friday, December 5, 2014

  • You want to cut costs? - Unitary Authorities for Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. Cut out multiple MDs and CEOs, one leader, one cabinet (or committee) setup. Huge savings right there, no more cross over for waste or roads, planning etc. Easier for the Electorate. As for Ed Balls - everyone knows he has Zero credibility, and with that Osborne fool at No.11, thats saying something!

    Report this comment

    Testing_times

    Friday, December 5, 2014

  • Agree totally with Mark Ling. The paper version of this story has a highlighted quote from dis.honest Gnobbs --I am confident that Labour is listening to people on theground -- What utter cr.ap!!! Labour stopped listening when Gnobbs managed to li.e himself into the leaders role at county hall. There is nothing, in terms of dec.eit, ar.rogance and self interest between the con group and labour group, at least under the leadership of Gnobbs and Castle, within county hall. Further power to these dis.honourable, self serving individuals would be an absolute disaster for Norfolk public services as pet projects, helping their own or friends interests, would take our money from front line services. Mark my words

    Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Friday, December 5, 2014

  • To be honest, after the complete mess SCC have made of Ipswich i'd gladly hand control over to someone based in Norwich & Norfolk. They couldn't do any worse than the current incompetent lot.

    Report this comment

    Esco Fiasco

    Friday, December 5, 2014

  • WAKE UP PEOPLE ! Representation levels on the LEP reflect everything that is presently wrong in East Anglia. It shows that Ipswich is considered a junior partner and not an equal. It gives Norwich and Norfolk direct control over our economic & business voice. This is worse than having no voice at all ! Ipswich’s regional status is being eroded or given away by Suffolk, and challenged by regional competitors like Cambridge & Norwich. We, the business folk, people and politicians of Ipswich have allowed our prize asset – our town – to become a “junior partner” in local government, in our region, in media and in our business forums. It is a cardinal sin to allow your competition to speak for you and to represent you. New Anglia LEP has 6 board members & 1 MD with heavy Norwich influence or background; Greater Cambridge LEP has 6 Cambridge representative on their separate LEP. Ipswich has David Ellesmere, a single voice. 14 of 15 key members are situated nearer to Norwich and Cambridge than Ipswich. Suffolk is failing to correctly market and sell “Greater Ipswich”. If “Greater Ipswich” was an entity, its GVA actually eclipses both Greater Norwich (Norwich & Broadland) and Greater Cambridge. This is a supreme selling point to attract new business, government investment; to promote Ipswich and benefit Suffolk. Yet petty politics, and a failure to recognise, support and promote ”Greater Ipswich” is preventing both town & county playing its trump card ! First and foremost we need equal representation on the LEP, our business community need to promote the “Greater Ipswich GVA” as our key selling point, our businesses need to lobby for improved media coverage, and eventually for local government reform to empower Greater Ipswich - ideally a unitary Greater Ipswich authority. Local business and New Anglia LEP should recommend that Ipswich should be backed fully in future bids for City Status, and must eventually have two dedicated MPs solely focused on urban Greater Ipswich.

    Report this comment

    Mark Ling

    Friday, December 5, 2014

  • I'm sorry Mr Balls, I don't believe a word of it. Your previous administration studiously ignored most rural area during it's last attempt at government. Investment in the East of England was non existent for 14 years leaving us with the creaking infrastructure that we are now suffering from.

    Report this comment

    Peter Buck

    Friday, December 5, 2014

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

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