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Leader of Norfolk County Council backs call for revival of devolution deal talks in 2019

PUBLISHED: 10:42 12 December 2018 | UPDATED: 10:44 12 December 2018

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Norfolk County Council

The leader of Norfolk County Council has said he is open to a revival of the devolution debate - two years after a previous deal was taken off the table.

John Timewell, Norfolk county councillor for North Walsham West and Erpingham. 

Picture: MARK BULLIMOREJohn Timewell, Norfolk county councillor for North Walsham West and Erpingham. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

In 2016, the government offered Norfolk and Suffolk a deal which would have seen powers devolved to local councils, bringing in £750m of new funding for infrastructure and £130m for new homes.

But the government had insisted that the two counties must have an elected mayor as part of the deal - which led to Norwich, Great Yarmouth, Beckland and North Norfolk councils deciding to withdraw from the process.

Broadland and South Norfolk backed it, as had councils in Suffolk, but when West Norfolk Council voted by 44 votes to 14, it sounded the death knell for the deal.

Norfolk County Council’s vote never happened as the government took the offer off the table. Meanwhile, an elected mayor was created for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

However, the issue has not gone away. In October, speaking at the Conservative party conference, treasury minister Robert Jenrick said having elected mayors in other regions of the UK had been “positive” and added that the government would welcome new proposals from the East.

He said “It does require the MPs, councils and communities and the business community to come together with one voice and say they think this is the best way to drive that area forward.”

The same month, North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb blamed the East’s failure to agree a devolution deal meant the region was missing out on money.

He said: “The view in the Treasury is that Norfolk is a basket case – we failed to reach an agreement with them.”

At a meeting of Norfolk County Council this week, Mr Lamb’s Liberal Democrat colleague, North Walsham West and Erpingham county councillor John Timewell asked Mr Proctor if he would revisit devolution in 2019.

Mr Proctor, who was leader of Broadland District Council when it was one of just two Norfolk councils which backed the original deal, said: “I have always been a supporter of devolution. If there are opportunities to do things again and make sure they are delivered this time, I would clearly support that.”

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