It’s official. Government will not listen to Norfolk County Council’s request this week to take the powerful elected mayor for Norfolk and Suffolk out of the Devolution Deal once and for all.
The mayor would have his “ renumeration” set by an independent panel and residents would have to cover the costs of the new council, the combined mayoral authority.
This a time when the county council intends to cut school crossing patrols like West Winch, restrict winter road-gritting and make millions more cuts to social services for older people.
An extra tier of government for existing council leaders as this would be, is a wanton waste of money when front-line services are still being cut and I will be voting against it on November 21. The Government’s £25 million for infrastructure is not new money at all and will not be enough to pay what Norfolk needs.
There is no mention, in the deal, of restoring the two-cross Norfolk rail links the Victorians built. No mention of dualling the A47 in West Norfolk. No commitment to upgrading the Ely Junction.
The improvements Norfolk needs for broadband and mobile networks proceed at snail’s pace and my feedback from residents and business shows how this holds back Norfolk’s economic growth.
Only Whitehall, not councils, have the expertise and clout to negotiate on anything like equal terms with IT multinational.
Adding in an extra tier of government will not help.
The fact that overseas visitors have better mobile reception than residents shows that broadband and mobile infrastructure fit for the 21st century need to be planned nationally now.
The powers of the elected mayor would be a threat to Norfolk’s democracy.
He could even sell off West Norfolk public assets and the money could go straight back to Whitehall.
County councillor Alexandra Kemp, Labour Independent Councillor for Clenchwarton and King’s Lynn South