George Osborne is being tipped to launch the East Anglian devolution deal in Suffolk tomorrow
- Credit: Archant
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne is set to launch the East Anglian devolution deal in Suffolk tomorrow, a leaked email has revealed.
Council leaders in Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire were last night put on ‘chancellor alert’ by West Norfolk Council after the authority issued details over Mr Osborne’s likely visit to the county.
In his Budget last week, Mr Osborne announced that a multi-million pound pot of cash to pay for roads, rail and housing projects will be handed over to an elected mayor for East Anglia.
Elections for the powerful new political figure could be held next year if councillors give the green light to a deal which includes a local transport budget of £30million each year for the next 30 years from the Treasury, and a further £175m up to 2021 to kick-start house building in the region.
And last night it was revealed that the West Norfolk Council ‘programme team’ wrote in an email sent to council leaders in Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire that Mr Osborne will “probably” announce the devolution deal in Ipswich tomorrow (March 23). The email said: “The programme team have been advised that the Chancellor, George Osborne will be coming to East Anglia on March 23, times and venue details not yet advised by Treasury, to launch the East Anglia Devolution Deal.
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“We are therefore emailing to ask you to hold this date, if at all possible, in your diary.”
The invitation to attend was signed by Cambridgeshire County Council leader Steve Count, Nick Daubney, leader of West Norfolk Council, and Jennifer Jenkins, Babergh District Council leader.
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The three council chiefs added: “In the event that the majority of leaders are available it would seem appropriate to arrange the first meeting of the leaders of the entire East Anglia area.
“The programme team, on our behalf, will alert you to the details as soon as they begin to firm up.”
The invitation was extended to council leaders and their chief executives.
It is likely the Chancellor could be considering a postponement following the resistance that is growing within Cambridgeshire to a devolution deal that could see the county link up with Norfolk and Suffolk to create an eastern powerhouse presided over by an elected mayor.
A crucial test will come as early as today, with Liberal Democrats on Cambridgeshire County Council putting forward an anti devolution motion that, if approved, could scupper its chance of success.
Speaking after last week’s budget, Mrs Jenkins, chairman of the Suffolk Public Sector Leaders’ Group, said there was still a great deal of work to be done before a final devolution deal was agreed.
She said: “The deal reflects the fact that Suffolk, and East Anglia, delivers some significant economic benefits to UK plc and beyond through agriculture, on and offshore energy and research and innovation in science and technology. But what has been published isn’t a ‘done deal’.”
A spokesman for the Treasury last night said it does not comment on “leaks of any kind” or “any potential travel plans of the Chancellor ahead of time”.