Councillors in South Cambridgeshire, Cambridgeshire County Council and the other five other key local councils in Cambridgeshire, including Peterborough City Council, have agreed devolution will happen – subject to final government approval.
In doing so, devolution will secure millions of pounds of additional funding for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
All the councils would retain their sovereignty and continue to deliver services for residents as they do currently – even as part of a Combined Authority.
Cambridgeshire County Council Leader Steve Count, who is also Chairman of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Devolution Partnership, said: “Devolution will see powers and decisions over millions of pounds of extra funding taken away from Westminster and put into the hands of local councils.
"It will mean we can invest in new homes, better transport and boost the local economy – we have a chance locally to increase skills, jobs and tackle deprivation.
"This is just the first phase – I will be talking to the government about further powers and funding which could be devolved locally.”
Although Opposition parties are critical of devolution, especially the Liberal Democrats at SCDC, the consultation – including an Ipsos Mori poll – carried out during last summer showed local support for devolution.
Some of the benefits include:
- A new £20m annual fund for the next 30 years (£600m) to support economic growth, development of local infrastructure and jobs, including major investment in transport schemes.
- A new £100m housing fund to be invested over the next five years to build more homes in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, including affordable, rent and shared ownership.
- £70m housing fund for Cambridge, which the City Council has indicated would be spent on new council housing.
- Supporting the delivery of the Wisbech Garden Town and the Wisbech-Cambridge rail connection.
- Providing new homes across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, including affordable homes in Greater Cambridge.
- Transport infrastructure improvements such as A14 / A142 junction and upgrades to the A10 and the A47 as well as Ely North Junction. It would also support development at Wyton and St Neots.
- Rail improvements, including a new station at Soham, with new rolling stock, improved King’s Lynn, Cambridge, London rail.
- Investment in a Peterborough University with degree-awarding powers.
- A local integrated job service working alongside the Department of Work and Pensions.
- Co-designing with the government a National Work and Health Programme focused on those with a health condition or disability, as well as the long-term unemployed.
- Integrating local health and social care resources to provide better outcomes for residents.
- Devolved skills and apprenticeship budget – to give more opportunities to our young people.
- Working with the government to secure a Peterborough Enterprise Zone – attracting investment from business leading to more and better quality jobs for residents.
The Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (GCGP LEP) board has also already agreed to back devolution.
For Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, devolution would see a Combined Authority with a representative from each authority and the LEP, chaired by a directly elected mayor.
Cllr Peter Topping, Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “I am particularly pleased we have managed to negotiate a deal which gives us funding to help address housing affordability in the area.
"This is something that has not been achieved anywhere else in the country. Housing affordability and transport are the two most common issues people locally talk to me about – devolution will put hundreds of millions of pounds in the hands of local councils rather than it being controlled by Whitehall.
"Devolution presents us with a huge opportunity to make inroads on the housing issue as well as unlocking the funding and flexibility to help support the successful economy we have in Greater Cambridge.
“By securing devolution, we are in a great position to negotiate other deals with the government, as they have in Manchester, where a series of new deals have seen more powers and funding devolved locally over time.”
Once agreed with the Secretary of State and formally approved by the government, a Shadow Combined Authority will be established, with mayoral elections set to take place on 4th May 2017 – the same day as the County Council election.
The Combined Authority will include Peterborough City Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, Fenland District Council, Huntingdonshire District Council, East Cambridgeshire District Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cambridge City Council and the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership.
More reading matter
- Summary of the governance scheme.
- Full governance review – the background to the governance proposals.
- Full governance scheme – how the mayor and Combined Authority will work together.
- Frequently asked questions.
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