Cambridgeshire and Peterborough backs devolution deal
Councillors from across the county have voted to progress a devolution deal for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough that will see more than £600million in new funding put into the hands of local communities.
The unanimous approval will unlock millions of pounds of new government funding alongside decision making powers to improve transport, create much needed housing and boost local jobs.
The decision made by the seven councils comes after an agreement from the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (GCGP LEP) to back the deal. This follows a public consultation as well as overwhelming support from local businesses.
The devolution deal includes significant benefits for the communities of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough including:
- 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 have also agreed for their council to become a constituent member of a Combined Authority for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough which would include a councillor from each of the local councils and a representative from the GCGP LEP. This ensures that democratically elected representatives of local communities are making decisions about how and where the money is spent.
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. This was also supported in the public consultation carried out by Ipsos MORI and by businesses.
Cambridgeshire County Councillor Steve Count, Chairman of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Devolution Partnership, said: "The deal, which has been described by Government as one of the best in the country, is just the first phase. Devolution for the area will mean we can make the decisions and have the money to start tackling our transport and housing issues that hamper our growing economy. Further phases could see the Combined Authority looking at more funding and powers that will directly improve the lives of our residents, create jobs and tackle deprivation.
"The decision by all seven councils and the GCGP LEP to back the devolution deal will put powers and decisions over funding into the hands of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough communities and away from Westminster. Approval by all members involved is testament to a joint vision and represents the support from residents and businesses through the consultation saying they want a greater number of decisions to be made locally.
"This deal allows us to grow the local economy and improve quality of life for our residents. Cambridgeshire and Peterborough needs more investment in housing and infrastructure and this is what this deal will deliver.”
Now that all partners have agreed to the deal it is expected by the end of the year that:
- a final written letter of consent from partner organisations will be sent to the Secretary of State
- a draft order laid before Parliament
- once given the green light by Central Government, the formation of a Shadow Combined Authority
- Mayoral elections are also set to take place in May 2017.
Cllr Peter Topping, Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “I am particularly pleased that we have managed to negotiate a deal that gives us funding to help address housing affordability in the area. This is something that has not been achieved anywhere else in the country. Housing affordability and transport are the two most common issues people locally talk to me about and this deal will put hundreds of millions of pounds in the hands of local people rather than it being controlled by Whitehall. Devolution presents us with a huge opportunity to make inroads on the housing issue as well as unlocking the funding and flexibility to help support the successful economy we have in Greater Cambridge.
“By securing a devolution deal it means we are in a great positon to negotiate further deal with government, as they have in Manchester, where a series of devolution deals have seen more powers and funding devolved locally over time.”
The seven councils involved in the devolution decision for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council, East Cambridgeshire District Council, Fenland District Council, Huntingdonshire District Council, Peterborough City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council.