17-Jun-2016

Councils across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, including the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP), will be making decisions over a proposed devolution deal with government.

With the proposals, the authorities have signalled to government their intent to move forward a deal that could put power and funding into the hands of local people rather than Westminster.

In the new deal local people could have control over a new £600 million fund (£20 million annual fund) to improve transport and infrastructure as well as £170 million for housing.

These are just proposals at the moment and councils will have to put them to their members to debate and vote on whether to take forward.

The councils believe the opportunity to boost jobs, transport and affordable homes across the East Anglian region is worth putting to government, in a new format developed locally.

Councillors also want the public to see the proposals and have their view on the possibility of putting powers and funding, normally decided by government, into the hands of local people.

If the proposals are agreed there is expected to be full consultation this summer. Residents and businesses can find out more about the proposals from their councils including at:

www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/devolution for Cambridgeshire County Council
https://www.scambs.gov.uk/ for South Cambridgeshire District Council

The new proposals follow the government’s original devolution offer for East Anglia made in March.

Both Cambridgeshire County and Peterborough City Councils as well as the LEP agreed that those original proposals were not acceptable. They agreed they required revision in order to fully meet the needs and aspirations of local people in order to take full advantage of the powers and budgets on offer.

Alongside this, Suffolk and Norfolk are also submitting their part of the devolution proposal to government. The two proposals build on the earlier single proposal, to work together on regionally significant matters such as transport and infrastructure.

The proposal is to form a Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority chaired by a directly elected Mayor. The bid also includes benefits for across the county, including:

  • a new £20 million annual fund for the next 30 years (£600 million) to support economic growth, development of local infrastructure and jobs.
  • £170 million for affordable housing, including £100 million for affordable, rent and shared ownership – particularly in response to housing issues in South Cambridgeshire and Cambridge City. There is a proposed specific £70 million fund to meet housing needs in Cambridge which Cambridge City Council have indicated would be spent on new council housing.
  • build on the case to develop the Wisbech Garden Town and the Wisbech-Cambridge rail connection.
  • providing new homes across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough including affordable homes in Greater Cambridge.
  • transport infrastructure improvements such as A14/A142 junction and upgrades to the A10 and the A47 as well as Ely North Junction. Also it would support development at Wyton and St Neots.
  • rail improvements (new rolling stock, improved King’s Lynn, Cambridge, London rail)
  • investment in a Peterborough University with degree-awarding powers.
  • a local integrated job service working alongside the Department of Work and Pensions.
  • co-designing with government a National Work and Health Programme focussed on those with a health condition or disability, as well as the long-term employed.
  • integrating local health and social care resources to provide better outcomes for residents.
  • devolved skills and apprenticeship budget – to give more opportunities to our young people.
  • working with government to secure a Peterborough Enterprise Zone – attracting investment from business leading to more and better quality jobs for residents.
  • working with government on the continued regeneration of Peterborough City Centre.
  • this proposal to be the first in a series of proposals which devolve more funding and powers from government to this area.

A Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority would include a representative from each authority and the LEP.

For a devolution deal government requires that there is an elected Mayor. This means local people will be given the chance to directly elect their choice to become Mayor, to chair and lead the combined authority. But the proposals also include checks and balances with representatives of the partner organisations making sure any decision are made democratically. All seven councils will sit on the combined authority and will have their say on decisions. No powers will be taken away from authorities without their consent.

Cllr Robin Howe, Executive Leader of Huntingdonshire District Council, said: "These proposals to government outline the initial areas that we would like control over in the devolution deal. Putting this control and funding into the hands of local people rather than Westminster ensures that the revenues from the economic output of our region will stay in our region rather than be dispersed across the whole country by the Treasury. We shall be able to invest in projects which unlock growth in jobs and housing by providing the infrastructure programmes in a more planned and timely fashion. Examples of this in the devolution proposal include funding the infrastructure necessary to support the housing development on Wyton airfield, along with support to St Neots, our fastest growing town, to help create a more integrated plan for housing, jobs, skills and communications. The deal will be subject to a Full Council vote on the 29th June and if this is positive we will begin to confer with residents to ensure this momentous change is subject to the proper democratic processes."

The proposals are being put to government by Cambridgeshire County Council, Peterborough City Council, Cambridge City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council, Fenland District Council, Huntingdonshire District Council, East Cambridgeshire District Council and the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Councils will discuss the proposal by the end of June. Approval by the constituent councils and the backing of the business community through the LEP will give government the clear commitment they require in order to consider proposals fully.

Ahead of this the public and businesses can find out more about devolution by visiting their local council’s website. This will help to inform councillors ahead of Full Council meetings at the end of the month.

If there is agreement and the proposals move forward there will be a full public consultation over the summer – which will allow residents and businesses to tell government what they think.

After the public consultation, councils will be asked to commit to arrangements to form a combined authority at another Full Council meeting. This means the Secretary of State could give final approve to a deal as early as the end of the year.