East Anglian councils agree to pursue regional devolution

The devolution agreement
Image caption The agreement covers Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk

Nineteen councils across East Anglia are to proceed with plans for regional devolution despite four Norfolk authorities rejecting the plans.

The proposals are for a combined authority covering in Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

They include the creation of a regional mayor responsible for powers devolved from Whitehall.

Andy Woods, negotiator for the councils, said: "The appetite for devolution... remains strong."

Breckland, Norwich, North Norfolk and Great Yarmouth councils have rejected the proposals but the 19 others have agreed to start statutory consultations.

What is the deal?

  • No intention for the new authority to take existing powers from local authorities
  • Devolved powers would include transport, strategic planning and skills training
  • A mayor will be chosen by voters in the three counties next May. He or she will have the power to increase business rates to fund infrastructure projects.
  • The cabinet will be able to reject any of the mayor's strategies or spending plans, but only by a two thirds majority

John Fuller of South Norfolk Council, said: "It's the most generous deal of all the devolution deals yet announced in the whole country and who knows if the public are absolutely unanimous in their support or there is substantial agreement it is possible the dissenting councils may actually decide the benefits are there."

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