Devolution deal could kick start new chapter for Huntingdonshire market towns - council leader says

Councillor Robin Howe

Councillor Robin Howe - Credit: Archant

St Ives and St Neots could be among the first towns in Cambridgeshire to benefit from Government investment through the devolution deal, according to the leader of Huntingdonshire District Council.

Councillor Robin Howe has been appointed portfolio holder for finance and fiscal policy on the new Cambridgeshire and Peterborough combined authority, which will be headed by an elected mayor, and says a case is being made to Government to invest in Huntingdonshire’s market towns.

If successful, Cllr Howe says an initial pot of money could be secured by the end of 2017 and would be put towards new masterplans for both St Ives and St Neots, which would map the future housing, economic, and infrastructure development of both towns for the next generation.

Cllr Howe told The Hunts Post: “This is good news for our market towns because I think we have taken a piecemeal view of our market town development in the past and this is an opportunity to look at everything together, as one project.”

Cllr Howe said he had appointed fellow Conservative councillor Angie Dickinson to oversee the start of work on the masterplan project, and added that Cllr Dickinson would work closely with councils in both towns to get the process up and running.

He said: “We are starting to plan already and have been meeting with St Neots Town Council and St Ives Town Council. What we want to do is put together a scoping document which will define the objectives for both towns.

“We want a broad church of advocates from the towns which will extend from the council through to the public, social, and cultural spaces.”

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Cllr Howe said the old system of government encouraged people to look towards London for work and opportunity, whereas he hoped the investment from devolution would allow people living in Huntingdonshire’s market towns to take advantage of improved infrastructure.

He said: “Why can’t we have people turning towards our region instead of looking to London? We can have a system where we focus on building infrastructure and businesses which we incentivise to start up and grow.”

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