Revealed - first glimpse of what Cambridgeshire can expect if, as expected, we become part of ‘eastern powerhouse’

Powers will be devolved to Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire with one elected mayor for all three

Powers will be devolved to Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire with one elected mayor for all three counties. - Credit: Archant

An eight-page dossier has offered a glimpse of what Cambridgeshire could like as part of a new and devolved regional authority.

Suffolk County Council leader Colin Noble said he believed that an agreement to bring devolution to East Anglia could be signed within a week following the Treasury talks.

It raises the prospect of giving local authority leaders the powers to impose a new tourism or room levy, which is not currently legal in the UK; a demand to keep half of the stamp duty raised locally; and powers to fine developers with planning permission who do not start building.

It comes with a demand for an extra £1bn for the region over the next two years to deliver what they claim would be the first deal which includes both county and unitary councils.

Oyster card-style tickets and an over-arching Transport for the East responsible for funding our rail and roads are also among plans being considered as part of the East Anglian devolution deal.

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The details have emerged in a leaked draft for the Eastern Powerhouse and they emerged as council leaders met Treasury minister Lord O’Neill in Westminster last week to discuss the three-county devolution deal.

The first draft – published on February 18 – comes after months of meetings and talks which has culminated in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk councils and business leaders working together.

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Leaders say they were told that the Treasury was “excited” by the proposals put together by the cohort of councils, which include the district and county councils of Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk along with the Peterborough unitary authority.

George Nobbs, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “It was a very encouraging meeting. We will have further meetings early next week.”

While West Norfolk council leader Nick Daubney, who is negotiating on behalf of leaders in Norfolk, said they had made the case for the area, comparing it to other areas which are also looking for new powers through devolution.

He said that details had not been discussed, but there had been a general agreement that they should go forward with the plans.

The draft proposal document asks the government to create a 30-year multi-billion pound “Investment Fund for the East”, which it says will unlock investment and deliver economic growth.

Major new housing settlements on the Norfolk and Cambridgeshire border and in Mildenhall on the Cambridgeshire and Suffolk border are also mentioned in the deal.

On the draft, Cllr Daubney said: “What we are saying is if the East of England is to reach its full potential, this is the sort of investment we need.”

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