Peterborough & Cambridgeshire Back Devolution – The most important decision for a generation

cityhallCouncillors from across the county have voted to progress a devolution deal for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough that will see more than £600million in new funding put into the hands of local communities.

The unanimous approval will unlock millions of pounds of new government funding alongside decision making powers to improve transport, create much needed housing and boost local jobs.

The decision made by the seven councils comes after an agreement from the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (GCGP LEP) to back the deal. This follows a public consultation as well as overwhelming support from local businesses.

The devolution deal includes significant benefits for the communities of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough including:

  • A new £600million fund (£20 million annually for the next 30 years) to support economic growth, development of local infrastructure and jobs
  • A new £100million housing fund to be invested over the next five years to build more homes in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough including affordable, rent and shared ownership
  • A new £70million fund to be used to build more council rented homes for Cambridge over the next five years because house prices are so high in the city

Councillors have also agreed for their council to become a constituent member of a Combined Authority for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough which would include a councillor from each of the local councils and a representative from the GCGP LEP.

In order to receive new funding and to make a greater number of decisions locally, Government has been clear that a Mayor for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will need to be elected by residents to chair the Combined Authority. This was also supported in the public consultation carried out by Ipsos MORI and by businesses.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Steve Count, Chairman of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Devolution Partnership, said: ” The deal, which has been described by Government as one of the best in the country, is just the first phase. Devolution for the area will mean we can make the decisions and have the money to start tackling our transport and housing issues that hamper our growing economy. Further phases could see the Combined Authority looking at more funding and powers that will directly improve the lives of our residents, create jobs and tackle deprivation.

“The decision by all seven councils and the GCGP LEP to back the devolution deal will put powers and decisions over funding into the hands of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough communities and away from Westminster. Approval by all councils involved is testament to a joint vision and represents the support from residents and businesses through the consultation saying they want a greater number of decisions to be made locally.

“This deal allows us to grow the local economy and improve quality of life for our residents. Cambridgeshire and Peterborough needs more investment in housing and infrastructure and this is what this deal will deliver.”

Councillor John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council, said: “I’m exceptionally pleased to move forward with this devolution deal, which is vital to help grow our local economy and shape a prosperous Peterborough for all our residents.

“The new funding and powers unlocked by the deal are essential so that we can invest in our communities by building affordable homes, improving local infrastructure, delivering the skills training needed by local businesses and investing in an independent university.

“This deal should be seen as a major shift in local government with powers being transferred from Westminster to be decided locally here in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. I believe this is only the first step and that there’ll be even greater opportunities offered through future devolution deals, however these must always be in the best interest of our city.”

Now that all partners have agreed to the deal it is expected by the end of the year that:

  • a final written letter of consent from partner organisations will be sent to the Secretary of State
  • a draft order will be laid before Parliament
  • once given the green light by Central Government, the formation of a Shadow Combined Authority.
  • Mayoral elections are set to take place in May 2017

This is probably one of the most important decisions we have made for a generation and despite all the doom and gloom levied at the plan from Peterborough Lib Dems, when it came to debating and voting, just 2 of the 7 elected Lib Dem councillors were in attendance at the Town Hall last week. Along with not having the backbone to vote on a decision at the last full council meeting to bring councillor allowances into line with the independent recommendation, many of those who elected them must find it very disappointing that when it comes to the tough decisions, they appear to suffer a serious lack of bottle and a dereliction of duty to their constituents. Just 2 of 7……….Just think about that next time if you ever consider voting Lib Dem.