Devolution talks pressing ahead

Jennie Jenkins

Jennie Jenkins - Credit: Archant

Council leaders, chief executives, and representatives from the New Anglia LEP have held more talks to try to thrash out a joint devolution bid for Suffolk and Norfolk.

The two-hour meeting in Ipswich was refereed by a facilitator – and was described by one of those present as “better than I expected – especially after what happened last time!”

The first meeting held in Norfolk last month featured a “robust” discussion with many council leaders struggling to agree on key points – which prompted some to ask whether agreement would be possible.

However Jennie Jenkins, who chairs the Suffolk Public Sector Leaders’ group, said: “We met today with the specific purpose of double-checking whether our emerging proposal to Government for greater devolved control over our lives and prosperity was ambitious enough.

“There were a series of discussions that helped us to reflect both upon those areas where we think we’ve got it about right and those areas where we need to be more ambitious.

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“By the end of the meeting, I believe we came away feeling that we have made another step forward for the communities we serve and we are looking forward to the challenge session with Government ministers and civil servants later in the autumn and securing this once-in-a generation opportunity to lock in all of our future economic prosperity and social cohesion.”

The meeting with civil servants and ministers has been put off from next week to early in November

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Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia LEP, said: “We have already shown that cross-border collaboration can work, boosting growth and creating jobs across Norfolk and Suffolk. Devolution offers us the opportunity to build on what we have achieved.”

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