Elected mayor for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough part of new devolution bid councillors are being asked to agree
PUBLISHED: 13:29 16 June 2016
Cambridgeshire is a step closer to having its own elected mayor under the latest devolution proposals for the county.
Councillors are being asked to back a revised devolution deal that separates Cambridgeshire and Peterborough from Norfolk and Suffolk – the original proposal of Chancellor George Osborn.
Under the new proposals the mayor will chair a new combined authority for transport, key roads, strategic planning and control of a £100 million housing and infrastructure fund.
Under terms of the devolution document the mayor will also control an additional £20 million a funding allocation over 30 years to boost growth.
But that’s not all for if the devolution bid is successful, the Government could give Cambridgeshire and Peterborough a further £70million over five years to meet housing needs.
The mayor will also take responsibility for chairing an area based review of 16 plus skills provision and devolved funding for 19 plus adult skills funding from 2018/19..
In partnership with the devolved authority for Norfolk and Suffolk, the mayor will also be expected to work closely to create jobs, boost skills provision, and work towards improving those with a health condition or disability and the long term unemployed.
“There is no intention to take existing powers from local authorities without their agreement,” says a draft document being discussed by all local councils across Cambridgeshire.
The report adds: “The directly elected mayor for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will autonomously exercise new powers.”
The new combined authority will effectively be run in a cabinet style with the mayor as chairman. Elections could take place as early as next May.
Governance arrangements for the new combined authority are out for discussion – the mayor will need a two thirds majority to carry through his spending plans.
Under devolution specific targets will be established such as calling for 29,000 homes to be built before 2021 and 72,000 over the longer period.
Infrastructure will be prioritised to support these extra homes. Unlocking “barriers to growth” form part of the devolution objectives.
Another innovation being considered is a new assets board to review all land and property – including surplus property and land- held by the public sector. This could find some of the funds needed for infrastructure.
In Fenland benefits could see improvements to the A47, the garden town principles of Wisbech expansion incorporated, and re-opening of the Wisbech to March rail line.
In East Cambs up to 1,000 homes could be built at Kennet under expansion of the Community Land Trust.
Peterborough’s ‘carrot’ will be creation of a university – whilst Cambridge will get an additional boost for housing.
And Ely North junction scheme could be advanced – hopefully to ensure improvements are carried out in the 2019-24 period.