Councils raise objections to Treasury devo deals

30 Mar 16

A number of local authorities have raised objections about devolution deals with Whitehall, with councils across the north east of England delaying approval of an agreement and councillors in Cambridgeshire rejecting proposed terms.

The North East Combined Authority, consisting of seven local authorities, has written to ministers seeking greater certainty over areas of financial devolution following a consultation on its proposed agreement.

The draft deal between the authority and the Treasury in October proposed providing £30m a year over 30 years to invest in projects across the region, while transport spending would also be devolved. The combined authority’s response to ministers, published last week, calls for “clarification on how government will fulfil its commitment to a single five-year programme allocation of the local growth fund and certainty over the £30m annual funding over all 30 years”.

Ahead of clarification on these points, only one council in the region – Newcastle City Council – has fully endorsed the devolution plan, with others seeking more information.

The combined authority is now seeking “appropriate clarification and commitment from government on the outstanding issues” before the pact, which is intended to come into force starting from next month, is approved.

An extraordinary NECA leadership board meeting of all seven council leaders is expected to be held in the week commencing 9 May to consider the further information provided from government.

The NECA’s decision came after Cambridgeshire County Council councillors passed a motion opposed to the devolution deal announced for East Anglia by George Osborne in the Budget. It stated that the council “welcomes the commitment of the government for increased investment in infrastructure in the east of England”. However, councillors voted in favour to “formally declare and record its opposition to the proposal for a mayor for Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, Norfolk and Suffolk, with sweeping powers over planning and transport which would reduce the influence of local people on planning for their own areas”.

The motion called on the council to notify local government secretary Greg Clark about the authority’s objections.

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