Norfolk County Council leader issues mayoral warning

editorial image

Fresh doubts have been cast on devolution plans for Norfolk after the county council’s new leader predicted members would not accept an elected mayor.

County and district authorities in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire have until the end of June to decide whether they want to take part in the plan to establish a combined regional authority.

But opposition to the government’s insistance on a directly-elected mayor has shown no sign of diminishing.

And, speaking following his election as Norfolk County Council leader on Monday, Cliff Jordan said that, while he supported devolved powers, he was against the mayoral idea too.

He said: “I think the people of Norfolk are brilliant, great, and they’re quite capable of governing their bloody selves.

“We don’t want someone from away telling us when to jump and how high.”

He also doubted that he would be able to persuade a majority of councillors to support the current devolution proposals when they are debated next month, because of a lack of support across the chamber, including his own group.

“I would say I’ll have a job getting that through.”

Supporters of devolution maintain it will, if implemented, transfer both political and spending power away from central government to the new regional structures.

But Mr Jordan said there had already been several unsuccessful attempts to initiate regional tiers of government.

And Green councillor Andrew Boswell maintained the scheme, in its current form, would do the exact opposite of what its supporters claim it will do.

He said: “It moves power closer to Whitehall. It’s dressing up something which is putting power in the hands of very few people who are going to be looking to Whitehall.

“They’re going to be very distant from local communities.”