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Councils to make final decision on devolution next week

Councillors from across the county will take their final votes on whether to complete the process for a devolution deal for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough next week.

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Full Council meetings will take place involving the seven councils set to form a new Combined Authority.

Fenland's councillors will be making their decision on Thursday, November 17, along with those from Peterborough City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council.

Their meetings will follow those of Cambridgeshire County and Cambridge City Councils, due on Tuesday, November 15, and Huntingdonshire and East Cambridgeshire District Councils, due on Wednesday, November 16.

The Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (GCGP LEP) board has already agreed to back the deal.

Councillors will be asked to endorse the devolution deal, which includes significant benefits for the communities of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. These include:

● A new £600 million 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 will also be asked to approve their council becoming a constituent member of a Combined Authority for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. This is in order to transfer certain powers, responsibilities and new funding from central government to the Mayoral Combined Authority.

The Combined Authority will be a new organisation where the seven councils and the GCGP LEP will make collective decisions that affect the local area. A Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority 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.

Councillor Robin Howe, speaking on behalf of all council leaders in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said: "We believe, and Government has acknowledged, that this is one of the most ambitious devolution deals in the UK. The deal will make a huge difference to our communities with a £600million funding boost for infrastructure alongside vital new money for housing and new powers to help to create better quality jobs and improve skills.

"If agreed, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is set to secure hundreds of millions and we are committed to creating a lean and effective authority to achieve the best deal for taxpayers.

"Overall for each £1 spent to run the Mayoral Combined Authority for the next five years it will generate funding of at least £45 to be invested in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. All running costs can be paid for through government funding already set out in the deal and at no cost to our local councils.

"To further improve quality of life and grow our local economy, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is in need of more investment in housing and infrastructure. This deal will create new opportunities for our residents, help to attract new business and produce substantial economic growth.

"Our residents and businesses have shown their support through the consultation saying they want a greater number of decisions to be made locally and welcomed the new funding the deal would unlock.

"Now the final decision on whether to proceed with devolution rests with councillors."

Fenland District Council leader Councillor John Clark said: "A tremendous amount of work has gone into negotiating this deal, which has the potential to bring great benefits to this whole area, both economically and in terms of local decision-making.

"To have more decisions made closer to home is a good thing in itself and Fenland in particular stands to gain from it.

"It will now be up to all our Members to decide whether or not we want to be part of the new Combined Authority. Because of the importance of this decision, every Member will have the chance to examine all the details of the proposed deal at a special briefing this Thursday (November 10). They will then have the final say at the full Council meeting on November 17."

If councils agree to proceed, a Shadow Combined Authority would be established once agreed with the Secretary of State. A Combined Authority would be established next year, with Mayoral elections set to take place in May 2017.

Key elements of the proposed deal

Under the proposed deal, all councils would retain their sovereignty and continue to deliver services for residents as they do currently - even if part of a Combined Authority.

The proposal would mean forming a Combined Authority that would include the following organisations: Peterborough City Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, Fenland District Council, Huntingdonshire District Council, East Cambridgeshire District Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cambridge City Council and the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership.

The proposal includes:

  • 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.

  • Supporting the delivery of the Wisbech Garden Town and the Wisbech-Cambridge rail connection.

  • Providing new homes across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough including affordable homes in Greater Cambridge.

  • 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, including a new station at Soham (new rolling stock, improved King's Lynn, Cambridge, London rail).

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

  • A local integrated job service working alongside the Department of Work and Pensions.

  • Co-designing with Government a National Work and Health Programme focused on those with a health condition or disability, as well as the long-term unemployed.

  • 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.

Article added November 7, 2016