Cambridgeshire rules out a joint devolution deal with Suffolk

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An overture from Suffolk and Norfolk to join forces to win more power from Westminster has been rejected by Cambridgeshire’s leaders.

The county’s top brass have written to their neighbours telling them they will look at an informal partnership but they will not be part of a formal devolution bid to the government.

It comes despite suggestions from communities secretary Greg Clark and his adviser, the former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine, that leaders should look at the advantages of a three-county deal.

Norfolk and Suffolk submitted individual bids with an early blueprint for how they think more powers including economic development and health powers could improve public services in the region.

They joined forces in September after they were told the separate bids were not big enough and they should work together.


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Norfolk County Council leader George Nobbs said the decision by Cambridgeshire leaders not to be part of a combined authority left the two-county bid where it was before, with a Norfolk and Suffolk bid being worked on with the Government.

“There were one or two people who continually said that we could not proceed without approaching Cambridgeshire. They wouldn’t listen to the fact that we knew Cambridgeshire wasn’t behind it; we made the approach in order to put this beyond question.

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“We have their official answer. We are on course for our original plan for Norfolk and Suffolk.

“It would be nice to work with Cambridgeshire – we are fond of them – but it was never there.”

Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia LEP said: “Our priority is growth, jobs and making the East one of the strongest economies in the UK. We already work very closely with Cambridgeshire on key projects such as innovation and research, better transport and skills. So to hear that they want to do even more with us is great news.

“We will continue to work in close co-operation with local authority and education leaders, along with the Cambridgeshire, Peterborough LEP to make the most of every opportunity.”

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough leaders said: “Representatives from authorities across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough held a workshop to look at what devolution could mean for the area and the benefits this might bring.

“As part of these talks council representatives were also told about the offer from Norfolk and Suffolk to look at a possible wider devolution deal, including a memorandum of understanding or combined authority.

“It was agreed that there were important shared areas, such as transport and infrastructure, that authorities would want to work much closely together on. It was suggested that further talks should be had to progress a shared Memorandum of Understanding.”

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