Norfolk County Council set to hold special meeting on devolution

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The leader of Norfolk County Council has called for a special devolution debate to take place next month, before final decisions are made about the project.

Plans have been developed for a new combined authority covering Norfolk and Suffolk, which would be led by an elected mayor.

But, with four of Norfolk’s district authorities having already pulled out of the scheme, county council leader Cliff Jordan says he believes further discussions are needed.

He has now requested a special meeting to be held on Monday, November 7, two weeks before the council is due to consider the draft orders laid out by the government for the new structure to come into force.

At that point, members will be asked to decide whether they want the authority to continue in the process.

Mr Jordan said: “There is a great deal of speculation and opinion about what is right for Norfolk.

“What is very clear is that the landscape now has changed greatly since the Council debated the proposals for devolution in June.

“Four authorities deciding not to be part of the deal creates the impression of a divided Norfolk, with no quick route for those authorities to be brought into this process before the mayoral elections in May 2017.

“This creates a particular issue for the county council, which has a role to represent the whole of Norfolk.

“Against this background, as leader, I want to have direction to proceed from full council as we enter into a busy period of discussions before the final vote takes place later in the month.”

Supporters of devolution say adopting the plans is critical for generating future economic growth in the region and progressing major infrastructure projects.

But critics insist the new authority is an unnecessary extra tier of government and more money is being taken away from councils than will be provided to the new body.