Thumbs up for devolution in Cambridgeshire but there's a split on whether county should have an elected mayor

PUBLISHED: 14:33 08 September 2016 | UPDATED: 14:33 08 September 2016

Fresh devolution by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

Fresh devolution by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

Archant

Conflicting evidence of whether people in Cambridgeshire want an elected mayor are revealed in poll results released today.

The question of an elected mayor for a combined authority “to access the benefits of the proposed deal” found 57 per cent in favour and only 25 per cent opposed when the question was put to them in a phone poll.

But the same question, when people took part in an on line poll went the other way with only 31 per cent showing support and 59 per cent opposing the idea.

The consultation was launched in July and finished in August. It included a proportionally representative Ipsos MORI phone poll of 2,280 residents as well as an online survey which 1,500 people completed, plus comments from business, community groups, parish councils and other organisations.

The scale of the response is higher than similar consultations in other devolution areas. Ipsos MORI poll results have a 95 per cent confidence level.

Government has asked areas across the UK to take advantage of new devolution deals but have stated in order to get the benefits; the combined authority must have a directly elected mayor.

Results from the consultation show that the majority of people support devolving powers from Government. This is especially true for putting decisions over areas such as transport, jobs, housing and skills into the hands of local people.

Each Cambridgeshire and Peterborough partner organisation will be meeting in late October and early November to decide whether they should press ahead with the proposal.

Cambridgeshire County Council leader Steve Count, speaking as chairman of the partnership, on behalf of all council leaders in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said “clear support” had been shown for the concept of more decisions being taken locally.

Councillor James Palmer, leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “We believe that the combined authority will allow us to progress further with our objective for East Cambridgeshire to be the place where people want to live, work, invest and visit.”

The Ipsos Mori poll found:

Support for the principle of devolution – 55 per cent for and 15 per cent opposed

Should powers be devolved from Government to district, city and county councils as part of a combined authority – 61 per cent for and 15 per cent opposed

Support for a mayor as part of a combined authority to access the benefits of the proposed deal – 57 per cent for and 25 per cent opposed

The online poll which was self selecting and invited people to have their say found:

Support for the principle of devolution – 55 per cent for and 37 per cent opposed

Should powers be devolved from Government to district, city and county councils as part of a combined authority – 44 per cent for and 47 per cent opposed

Support for a mayor as part of a combined authority to access the benefits of the proposed deal – 31 per cent for and 59 per cent opposed

The community was also asked a series of questions around governance, and also about whether they backed certain powers and funding being decided locally around transport, housing, jobs and skills. In all surveys residents supported decisions being made locally.

Fenland District Council leader Councillor John Clark said: “I’d like to thank everyone in Fenland who responded to the consultation. We realise that they make up only a comparatively small sample of the population and that some concerns remain, particularly about a new mayor.

“At the same time, we believe that the proposed devolution deal has the potential to bring considerable benefits to the whole of this area. All these factors will be taken fully into account when we debate the proposal again at our full council meeting on November 3.”

A report on the consultation has been sent to the Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

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