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Council to decide on devolution deal on July 1

Fenland District Council will decide whether or not to approve in principle the proposals for a devolution deal for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough at a full council meeting on Friday, July 1.

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The proposals were officially announced last Friday (June 17). All the councils across the area will be making their decisions over the next two weeks.

Details of the proposed deal were outlined to FDC members at a special seminar last Thursday (June 16) prior to their official publication.

Council leader Cllr John Clark said: "This proposed deal has the potential to bring significant new funding to Fenland. It has taken protracted negotiations to get to this point and although often frustrating they have proved worthwhile because at each stage the document has been improved.

"Now all our members have the chance to study the proposals in detail over the next two weeks. Then it will be up to them to decide at our full Council meeting on July 1 whether or not to approve them."

The proposals have been drawn up by Cambridgeshire County Council, Peterborough City Council, Cambridge City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council, Fenland District Council, Huntingdonshire District Council, East Cambridgeshire District Council and The Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

At the moment they are just proposals. All the constituent Councils will have to put them to their members to debate and vote on whether to take them forward.

If the proposals are agreed, full consultation will take place this summer.

The new deal could give local people control over a new £600 million fund (£20million annual fund for 30 years) to improve transport and infrastructure, as well as a £170 million for housing.

Potential benefits for the county listed in the devolution bid include:

  • A new £20million annual fund for the next 30 years (£600million) to support economic growth, development of local infrastructure and jobs.
  • £170 million for affordable housing, including £100 million for affordable, rent and shared ownership - particularly in response to housing issues in South Cambridgeshire and Cambridge City. There is a proposed specific £70 million fund to meet housing needs in Cambridge which Cambridge City Council have indicated would be spent on new Council housing.
  • Building on the case to develop the Wisbech Garden Town and the Wisbech-Cambridge rail connection.
  • Providing new homes across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough including affordable homes in Greater Cambridge.
  • Investment in a Peterborough University with degree-awarding powers.
  • Transport infrastructure improvements such as A14/A142 junction and upgrades to the A10 and the A47 as well as Ely North Junction. Also it would support development at Wyton and St Neots.
  • Rail improvements (new rolling stock, improved King's Lynn, Cambridge, London rail)
  • A local integrated job service working alongside the Department of Work and Pensions.
  • Co-designing with Government a National Work and Health Programme focussed on those with a health condition or disability, as well as the long-term employed.
  • To integrating local health and social care resources to provide better outcomes for residents.
  • Devolved skills and apprenticeship budget - to give more opportunities to our young people.
  • Working with Government to secure a Peterborough Enterprise Zone - attracting investment from business leading to more and better quality jobs for residents.
  • Working with Government on the continued regeneration of Peterborough City Centre.
  • This proposal to be the first in a series of proposals which devolve more funding and powers from Government to this area.

The new proposals follow the Government's original devolution offer for East Anglia made in March.

Both Cambridgeshire County and Peterborough City Councils as well as the LEP agreed that those original proposals were not acceptable.

There are now two proposed deals for East Anglia: one covering Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and another for Norfolk and Suffolk. However, there are clear links between them on matters such as transport and skills.

Under the proposals a new Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority would be formed, chaired by a directly elected Mayor.

For a devolution deal Government requires that there is a Mayor, directly elected by local people, to  chair and lead the combined authority. There will be checks and balances, with representatives of the partner organisations making sure any decision are made democratically.

All seven councils will sit on the combined authority and will have their say on decisions. No powers will be taken away from authorities without their consent.

Approval by the constituent councils and the backing of the business community through the LEP, will give Government the clear commitment they require in order to consider proposals fully.

If there is agreement and the proposals move forward, there will be a full public consultation over the summer. It is proposed that this will start on July 4 and continue for seven weeks until August 22. It will be conducted primarily online but people will also be able to submit comments by letter or email.. Consultation documents will be made available in key council buildings.

After the public consultation, councils will be asked to commit to arrangements to form a combined authority at another full council meeting. This means the Secretary of State could give final approval to a deal as early as the end of the year.

Article added June 20, 2016