County council leader Steve Count writes to communities minister Greg Clark calling for ‘urgent talks’ on devolution - meanwhile East Cambs ‘ratifies’ agreement

PUBLISHED: 17:08 18 April 2016 | UPDATED: 17:08 18 April 2016

Montage, Cllr Steve Count and Goverment Minister Greg Clark

Montage, Cllr Steve Count and Goverment Minister Greg Clark

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County leader Steve Count has written to local government minister Greg Clark calling for urgent talks on a “changed devolution deal” to benefit the people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough “as well as the wider region”.

County leader Steve Count has written to local government minister Greg Clark calling for urgent talks on a “changed devolution deal” to benefit the people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough “as well as the wider region”.

Cllr Count re-iterated to the minister that the county council had agreed the “deal is unacceptable in its current form” and changes were needed.

The council leader said in his letter: “While there were major concerns expressed during the meeting, which the chief executive has outlined, I want to make it clear that we certainly understand the benefits and opportunities for the communities we serve of moving powers and funding from Government to be held locally.

“The county council believes that Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is a viable geography for a strong devolution deal with Government. “Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have innovative, world beating, fast growing economies, whose continued success is vital for the future of UK plc.

“With greater local freedoms and funding we could support this growth by improving housing, transport, skills and jobs for the benefit of our residents and the UK as a whole.”

Cllr Count added: “Building upon the work that has previously been done on a Cambridgeshire and Peterborough deal, we would like the opportunity to revisit the key areas of benefit that such a deal could offer.”

But he told Mr Clark that “recognising the need for closer working with surrounding areas on strategic issues, such as transport, we would also reinstate

our plans for a memorandum of understanding with Norfolk and Suffolk.”

He said: “Our members are very keen to present these arguments and promote the potential of a different devolution deal for our area. I therefore request a meeting with you as soon as possible and look forward to hearing from your office when this might be possible.

“I would also like to thank you for the time and effort you are putting into seeking to take forward devolution for our area.”

* East Cambridgeshire District Council agreed to ratify a devolution deal worth nearly one billion pounds for East Anglia.

The council voted to ratify the East Anglia Devolution Agreement at a special council meeting last Wednesday.

A council spokesman said: “Wednesday’s ratification vote means that the council has agreed to move to the next stage with the other authorities about the deal.

“East Cambridgeshire District Council is the first local authority to ratify the agreement in East Anglia.”

The spokesman said their chief executive John Hill and council leader James Palmer would work to “ensure the inclusion of key infrastructure projects and priorities in the current and future devolution deals for East Cambridgeshire”.

These projects

• Ely Soham Bypass

• Soham Railway Station and doubling of track

• Ely North Junction

* Newmarket Curve

* Junction A14/A14

* Community Land Trust (CLT) development and related infrastructure

* A10 upgrade

* Improvement to cross country links East and West

Councillors will hold a further special meeting on June28 “to update members on the implementation of these recommendations”.

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