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East Anglian devolution in doubt as two councils reject plans

The future of one of the recently proposed East Anglian devolution deals could be in doubt after two councils in Norfolk rejected it.

Norwich City Council and Breckland Council voted not to back the plans, which include Norfolk and Suffolk, last night. But Babergh, Broadland and St Edmundsbury offered their backing to progress the deal to a public consultation stage.

Norfolk County Council backed the joint devolution plan with neighbouring Suffolk County Council.

But Cllr William Nunn, leader of the Breckland Council, said: “Whilst devolution clearly presents opportunities to steer major decisions at a more local level, members are not yet convinced of the benefits of the deal in its current form and the requirement for a mayor.”

He added that councillors felt that it would be wrong to rush into an “expensive and extensive consultation exercise” without knowing a full and clear picture of the facts.

“We will continue to take an active role in future discussions with the other councils. I am hopeful that in the future we can craft a deal that is right for Breckland and enables us to lead and influence the development of our district, county and region in a controlled and fair way,” said Cllr Nunn.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough deal, however, looks to be in better shape, after councillors backed the plans.

Cllr Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council, said: “The devolution deal that we have agreed to support and share for public consultation would bring desperately needed new homes to Cambridge, helping us to ensure that people get the homes they need and deserve and to secure the future growth of the city’s economy.

“We will consider all of the comments we receive during the consultation, along with those of the new national government leaders, before deciding whether or not to confirm our initial support for the devolution plans.

The government initially proposed a single devolution deal for the whole region, but this was rejected by Cambridgeshire County Council, with Labour’s Cllr Ashley Walsh calling it “a shotgun wedding” between counties with few common interests.

For both of the new deals to be approved, they need the backing of all the councils involved.


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