Councillors call for Government to drop East Anglian mayor plans as part of devolution proposals

UKIP's Paul Bullen

UKIP's Paul Bullen - Credit: Archant

Councillors opposed to the Government’s offer of devolution for East Anglia in its current format have said they will not support any future plans unless their concerns are addressed.

The leaders of the UKIP, Labour, Liberal Democrat and independent groups at Cambridgeshire County Council signed a letter addressed to the leader of the Conservative group, Councillor Steve Count, setting out their demands for any future negotiations with the government.

In the letter, the group leaders said that they were opposed to the imposition of an elected mayor for Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire, and also called for more time for the public, and business groups, to consider the deal.

When a first round of proposals for devolution were put before the county council on March 22, councillors voted to reject the offer, resolving that “the deal, in its current form, is not acceptable to this council”.

As part of the devolution deal, the government offered investment and greater control over planning and infrastructure matters in return for an elected mayor for Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

Councillor Paul Bullen, leader of the UKIP group, told The Hunts Post: “The deal that’s on offer does nothing for Cambridge and Cambridgeshire.

“We are supposed to be moving towards localism but this deal is more centralisation, this is one person to govern across three counties. This isn’t devolving powers to local people and that is the big problem.”

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Councillor Bullen said that Cambridgeshire shared little in common with Norfolk and Suffolk and said, in his view, it would be preferable for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to campaign for more devolved powers.

It is understood that discussions will now take place between Conservative councillors and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, before proposals are brought back before the county council, expected in May.

Cllr Bullen added: “Certainly, the government can impose this deal on us if they wish and, let’s face it, the way they have been reacting recently, I wouldn’t be surprised.”