England

Budget 2016: Lord Tebbit attacks elected mayor plan

Norwich Cathedral
Image caption Devolving powers from Whitehall could help boost transport links to the region's key cities such as Norwich

The Chancellor's flagship plan for an elected mayor for East Anglia has been attacked by Tory grandees Lord Tebbit and Sir Henry Bellingham.

George Osborne announced the proposals for Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk in his budget.

Lord Tebbit said the region did not need an elected mayor, while Sir Henry said it could hit councils.

Earlier Tory MP for West Suffolk Matthew Hancock backed the scheme for providing a "strong local figurehead".

Image caption Lord Tebbit, speaking in the House of Lords, criticised the plan for elected mayors, warning it would raise costs and introduce another layer of government

Former cabinet minister Lord Tebbit, speaking in the House of Lords, said: "Those of us who have the privilege of living in East Anglia and particularly those of us who live in Bury St Edmunds, where we have an excellent council, which has improved services and kept rates well under control, do not need an elected mayor for East Anglia.

"That will only raise costs, introduce another layer of government and lead to further escalation of these problems."

For the Government Viscount Younger of Leckie said: "That may be so but we very much think it is right that it's up to the local area to decide these matters."

Image caption Sir Henry Bellingham MP raised his concerns about the elected mayor plans during the budget debate on Monday night

MP for North West Norfolk Sir Henry Bellingham, in the House of Commons on Monday night, argued the plans could see mayors seeking to hire large numbers of staff and directors.

He insisted this could lead to an elected assembly as he likened the costs to the £52m required for the country's 41 police and crime commissioners.

Sir Henry added an "absolutely outstanding" budget from the Chancellor would be wrecked if he did not receive assurances that a far more cautious approach was adopted over elected mayors.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Eastern Powerhouse plan is being backed by Chancellor George Osborne

"I do regard the plan to bring in an elected mayor with extreme suspicion.

"I feel absolutely no affinity whatsoever to East Anglia. I feel an affinity to Norfolk."

The powers to be devolved are expected to include infrastructure and planning responsibilities.

Mr Hancock said: "The devolution deal brings more money, new powers, and will give us a strong local figurehead who can unite East Anglia and make our case heard locally, nationally and internationally."

Image caption Councillors and business leaders from Norfolk and Suffolk met government officials to discuss their devolution plans before they were announced

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites