We are in times of unprecedented upheaval with enormous developments happening, and huge decisions being taken, seemingly every day.
The national and international political map is changing. Now we face an issue that is absolutely regional. And it’s hugely important.
The possibility of Suffolk and Norfolk securing a devolution deal with the government is now very real, very close and is supported by the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce Board.
In fact, by the time you read this, the period of public consultation will be over but the decision by our local councillors will not be made until October, so you can still make your voice heard.
We already know that opinions vary and emotions are running high. Articles and letters in the media have shown that. Irrespective of opinion, what we know is that this deal would generate extra funds over the next 30 years, to be spent on roads, transport links and vital services that will support business growth in the East. The deal is not perfect, and there are parts which we would prefer not to be included, but on the whole we feel that it is an important positive move for our local economy.
There would be extra funds, to support the building of affordable homes across the region. This funding will in turn unlock hundreds of millions of pounds of additional private sector investment.
And we would have more say as a region. Decisions on Adult Skills funding, the Apprenticeship Grant and our transport budget would be made locally. We’d have more control over, for example, programmes to support our disabled and long term unemployed, and the protection of our coastline.
We as a region have enormous potential. Right now we need the workforce, skills, infrastructure and community resources that are essential for a vibrant economy.
Devolution is a golden opportunity to secure the backing to do that, and to shift the key decisions away from Whitehall, and bring them closer to home.
It’s another big decision, but this one is about our region, our businesses and our people.
It’s about our future.