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First non-metropolitan devolution deal agreed

Cambridge and Peterborough will be the latest region to elect a new mayor next year after seven local councils agreed a £800m devolution deal which will make it the first non-metropolitan devolved area in England.

After months of negotiations, the new county-wide combined authority was confirmed last night (Tuesday 22 November) as Cambridge City Council finally signed up. Huntingdon, Fenland, Cambridgeshire County, South Cambridgeshire, East Cambridgeshire and Peterborough councils had already voted in favour of the deal.

The deal will see more than £600m of funding to be shared among the councils over the next 30 years to support economic growth, along with £170m ring-fenced to build new homes. The new combined authority, chaired by the new mayor, will be attended by each of the seven councils along with a representative from the local enterprise partnership GCGP LEP.

Cllr Steve Count, Cambridgeshire County Council leader and chairman of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Devolution Partnership, said: “The decision by all seven councils and the GCGP LEP to back the devolution deal will put powers and decisions over funding into the hands of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough communities and away from Westminster.

“Approval by all members involved is testament to a joint vision and represents the support from residents and businesses through the consultation saying they want a greater number of decisions to be made locally.

“This deal allows us to grow the local economy and improve quality of life for our residents. Cambridgeshire and Peterborough needs more investment in housing and infrastructure and this is what this deal will deliver.”

Approximately £70m has been specifically designated to Cambridge City Council with the council aiming to build at least new 500 new council homes. There will also be a £100m fund for housing association rental homes across the combined authority area in order to tackle Cambridgeshire’s housing affordability crisis. 

Cllr Peter Topping, leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, praised the deal’s dedication to housing, saying: “Housing affordability and transport are the two most common issues people locally talk to me about and this deal will put hundreds of millions of pounds in the hands of local people rather than it being controlled by Whitehall.

“Devolution presents us with a huge opportunity to make inroads on the housing issue as well as unlocking the funding and flexibility to help support the successful economy we have in Greater Cambridge.”

The councils expressed hope that the deal would see the region gradually assume greater devolved powers and funding over time, as has been the case in Greater Manchester.

Once the deal has been given the green light by central government, a shadow combined authority will be formed and arrangements will be made to elect the region’s new mayor in May next year.

Initially, devolution had been proposed between Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk to form an ‘Eastern Powerhouse’. However, this was quickly shot down by councillors, leading to the government making two separate East Anglian offers – one to Peterborough and Cambridgeshire and one for Norfolk and Suffolk.

While Cambridgeshire councils have successfully agreed their deal, plans for devolution in Norfolk and Suffolk recently collapsed after West Norfolk council voted against them. Lincolnshire County Council also rejected their devolution deal last month.

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John Whitby   24/11/2016 at 12:29

The figures look good, but remember the adage, lies, damn lies, and statistics.... of the £600m over 30 years that makes £20m a year. Now, if £8m a year comes to Peterborough, that will equal the amount of grant funding being taken away from the council each year by the government! Some deal eh? We get back the money we have lost, plus a mayor and another layer of beaurocracy.......

Lorna Dupre   24/11/2016 at 14:00

And the £20M is not linked to inflation, so could well be worth less than half its current value in 30 years' time. (And no government can bind its successors to a 30 year deal anyway). And even if Cambridgeshire & Peterborough had all 30 years' money now, at today's values, it still wouldn't be enough to build 20 miles of motorway.

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