Multi-million pound devolution deal backed by councillors

22 November 2016

Councillors in South Cambridgeshire have backed a devolution deal that will secure millions of pounds of additional funding for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

The deal was supported at a Council meeting at South Cambridgeshire District Council last night (Monday 21 November) with the Leader of the Council saying it presents a huge opportunity to tackle two of the key issues for the area – housing and transport.

A consultation – including an Ipsos Mori poll – carried out this summer showed local support for the devolution deal that had been negotiated with government. Some of the benefits include (further examples in notes):
● 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

Five of the seven councils set to form a new Combined Authority have now met and agreed to complete the process for a devolution deal for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Cambridgeshire County Council and Cambridge City Council are meeting later today.

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

The devolution deal for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough would see a Combined Authority with a representative from each authority and the LEP, chaired by a directly elected Mayor.

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.”

If councils all vote 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.

Councillors in South Cambridgeshire supported the devolution deal by a margin of 30 votes for and 18 votes against.

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 Cambridgeshire and Peterborough 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 devolution proposal to Government 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