Councils might need to chip in £10,000 to hire expert advice on devolution - and MORI could be asked for YOUR thoughts

The flag of East Anglia, flying over County Hall. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

The flag of East Anglia, flying over County Hall. Pic: Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Submitted

Fenland Council leader John Clark revealed he was putting £10,000 aside – along with 22 other council leaders- in case they have to pay external consultants to advise them on devolution proposals for East Anglia.

Cllr Clark also said pollsters MORI were being considered to survey people across East Anglia over their views for a combined authority of three counties headed up by an elected mayor.

“I have to be very careful when I spend out council’s money,” he said after explaining that he had got permission to use the cash, if it is needed, during an all member devolution seminar earlier this week.

He said the external advice may be needed since the council’s own officers were being expected to put “meat on the bone” on devolution in addition to carrying on with their normal day jobs.

He said the decision to allocate up to £10,000 per council was made by all council leaders but he hoped this money could be found from elsewhere.

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Cllr Clark said the Government would be asked to find the work and failing that the Local Government Association; finding the cash locally a last resort.

“If the worse comes to the worse £10,000 has been earmarked if I need it,” he said.

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He insists Fenland Council had yet to decide if they would support devolution but the council’s website had been updated to include a special section devoted to explaining what it would mean.

He said officers were working on consultations “which may be done through a MORI poll- that is one of the ideas being considered. Consultation is central”.

Fenland Council, a signature to the draft agreement on devolution, has postponed its planned meeting on May 12 and a vote will not now be taken until the rescheduled meeting on July 1.

“This will provide the public, key stakeholders and ourselves with additional time to understand the many issues that devolution is presenting us all with,” he said.

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