PM raises prospect of devolution for Norfolk
- Credit: Archant Norfolk SIMON FINLAY
Could devolution in Norfolk be back on the cards?
During a far-reaching speech on Thursday, the Prime Minister said the government needed to “rewrite the rulebook” and take a “more flexible approach to devolution” in England.
Specifics for what devolution will mean is currently unknown, but it could lead to Norfolk getting an elected mayor or a single, unitary council to replace the two tiers of local government at the moment.
“The UK will never fit into some cookie-cutter division into regions named after points of the compass,” Mr Johnson said.
“But where there are obvious communities of identity and affinity and real economic geographies, there is a chance to encourage local leadership.”
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Mr Johnson added local leaders in towns around the country should be “given the tools to make things happen for their communities”.
“To do that we must take a more flexible approach to devolution in England,” he said.
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“We need to rewrite the rulebook with new deals for the counties and there is no reason why our great counties cannot benefit from the same powers we’ve devolved to city leaders.”
The ideas were welcomed by South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller, who criticised former plans, and accused county council leaders of "strutting around like Middle Age Kings born to rule".
"This sounds very much like the opportunity that Norfolk missed out on back in 2015," Mr Fuler said.
"I welcome the new opportunity open to the whole ceremonial county of Norfolk to work with its neighbours and the important instruction that a county doesn't mean the county council but is instead an invitation for all the authorities to come together with a local mayor who may not necessarily be a member of any of the councils."
Norfolk County Council leader, Andrew Proctor, said he was waiting for more detail before he would pass judgement.
Mr Proctor said he would work together with local businesses to have something that worked for Norfolk.
"The important thing is that it links to the levelling up agenda," Mr Proctor said.
"Exactly what it will be for Norfolk is difficult to say at the moment."
The previous plans for a devolution white paper were shelved by the government late last year.