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Fenland Council backs proposed devolution deal

The proposed devolution deal for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough was approved by Fenland District Council at a full council meeting this afternoon (Friday, July 1).

Devolution - July 1 Council meeting

The vote means that all the local authorities in the area have now given it their backing, along with the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The proposal is designed to put more power and control over hundreds of millions of pounds of extra funding into the hands of local people rather than Westminster. It has been drawn up after the Government's previous devolution offer for the whole of East Anglia was rejected.

Members backed council leader John Clark, who said the terms of the proposed deal "provide real opportunities to benefit all our towns and villages and their residents".

He said: "Fenland will have a greater ability to take local decisions on a wide range of issues that are important to our local areas and people - skill, transport, growth and economy."

He added: "Importantly, Fenland DC is not being asked to relinquish any part of its sovereignty as part of this proposal. Therefore the day-to-day operations of the council are likely to remain largely unaffected."

The proposal will now be subject to a seven-week public consultation, starting next week. The consultation will be conducted mainly online but people will also be able to submit comments by letter or email. Consultation documents will be made available in key council buildings.

Councils will have to meet again in late October to approve the draft Order that the Secretary of State has to submit to Parliament by November 4 if the legislative timetable is to be met.

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

The aim is to establish the combined authority by March 2017 so that elections for the mayor can be held in May 2017.

The new authority would have control over a new £600 million fund (£20 million annually for 30 years) to support economic growth, improved transport and infrastructure and more jobs and another £170 million for housing.

Other key elements of the proposal are:

  • Building on the case to develop the Wisbech Garden Town and the Wisbech-Cambridge rail connection.

  • Investment in a Peterborough University with degree-awarding powers.

  • Devolved skills and apprenticeship budget to give more opportunities to young people.

  • Working with Government to secure a Peterborough Enterprise Zone to attract more business investment and more and better quality jobs

  • More control over who delivers local transport services - and how

  • 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.

  • Integrating local health and social care resources to provide a more joined-up service

  • A commitment to providing superfast broadband and better mobile phone reception

  • 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 proposed deal has 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).

Article added July 1, 2016