Norfolk County Council-Devolution consultation – 08 July 2016

From Friday 8 July people across Norfolk and Suffolk are being asked for their views on a proposed devolution deal and associated governance arrangements for the two counties.

Devolution would see the transfer of certain decision-making powers and funding down from Central Government to a local area. It would result in decisions taken close to where they have an effect.

The majority of councils across Norfolk and Suffolk, along with the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, supported the deal and agreed to ask the public for their views.

Consultation will run for seven weeks, until 23 August.

As part of the consultation, people are being asked for their views on more decisions being taken locally, rather than at central government. They will be asked if they support the creation of a combined authority chaired by a mayor for the two counties, how decisions should be taken and how a combined authority and mayor should be held to account for the decisions they take.

People can have their say by visiting and kcompleting the online survey or the hard copy version. The website also includes further information about the proposed deal and the role of the proposed Combined Authority and Mayor.

In addition, Ipsos-Mori will also be carrying out more than 3000 phone surveys across the two counties to ensure decision makers have a representative sample of views.

Councillor Cliff Jordan, Leader of Norfolk County Council said: “Politicians have been talking about devolution for long enough so now is a chance for the people of Norfolk to have their say.

“This devolution deal could lead to something bigger. There’s more funding for services at a time when there isn’t going to be much money coming out of Whitehall. It is now up to the public to decide whether they want a mayor for a combined authority.

“I want to hear from the people of Norfolk about how they feel about decisions being taken closer to home rather than in Whitehall, and what they think of the deal that’s on offer.”

Andy Wood, Independent Chair of the East Anglia Leaders Group said:

“With majority support across Norfolk and Suffolk and complete support across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough it is right that communities now have the opportunity to have their say on devolution proposals for East Anglia.

“Norfolk and Suffolk has one of the best potential settlements in the country, offering £130m over five years for housing and £25m a year (for 30 years) to increase jobs, provide better infrastructure and drive growth in local businesses and the economy.

“I would encourage communities to give their views in the consultation so councils and the Secretary of State can take an informed view later in the year.”

Views from public consultation will be reported to the Secretary of State for him to consider ahead of any decision to create a combined authority or arrangements are made for mayoral elections, which would take place in May 2017.

Following publication of the original deal in March 2016 negotiations with Government have seen the funding on offer increase for both housing and infrastructure.

Discussions also led to a proposal to have two deals (Norfolk/Suffolk and Cambridgeshire/Peterborough), which council leaders and LEPs believe is the best way to get the most benefit for the people, places and businesses across East Anglia. However, there would be joint working across East Anglia to improve transport and other infrastructure.

Key elements of proposed Norfolk/Suffolk deal are:
£25m funding each year for the next 30 years (£750m) to support economic growth, development of local infrastructure and jobs (this will increase the local economy to £43bn and create 95,000 jobs by 2026)
£130m investment over five years to support the building of new homes across Norfolk and Suffolk
Over the lifetime of the deal around 200,000 homes could be delivered
Control of a £225m guaranteed transport budget for the next four years
Control of an existing c£20m annual adult skills fund to ensure the training offer matches the needs of local businesses and the local labour market
Control of an existing c£2m annual Apprenticeship Grant for employers
The deal would have a Combined Authority and a Directly Elected Mayor. The Combined Authority would decide the most effective and efficient level to deliver services to ensure the best possible outcomes for communities.
About the Combined Authority (CA)
The CA would be made up of an elected member from all of the councils across Norfolk and Suffolk who have signed the deal.
The CA would not replace any existing council.
Councils would continue as they currently do, to provide services for their areas.

About the Mayor
The Mayor would be elected by residents in the council areas that have voted to approve devolution.
The Mayor would not be able to make decisions alone and would require the support of a certain number of members on the CA to progress their proposals.
Existing Mayors across Norfolk and Suffolk would not be affected.
Locally, the Mayor would be held to account by voters (elections every four years).
There would also be an Audit Committee and an Overview and Scrutiny Committee to review spending and decision making respectively.

Notes to editors

Those areas that approved the proposed Devolution deal are:

All Suffolk borough, district and county councils
New Anglia LEP
Norfolk County Council
Broadland District Council
King’s Lynn and West Norfolk
South Norfolk District Council

For political comment
Cllr Cliff Jordan, Leader of the Conservative Group and Leader of the Council, on 01362 820422
Cllr George Nobbs, Leader of the Labour Group, on 01603 222936
Cllr Toby Coke, Leader of the UKIP Group, on 07717 881289
Cllr Marie Strong, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, on 07920 286597
Cllr Richard Bearman, Leader of the Green Party Group, on 01603 504124

For further information please contact:
Media Team at Norfolk County Council
Tel: 01603 228888