Norfolk County Council cabinet recommends accepting devolution deal and holding mayor election in 2025
Norfolk County Council’s cabinet has recommended that a devolution deal be accepted and an elected leader put in place in 2025.
County councillors are now set to meet next week to decide on proposals to transfer key powers and funding to Norfolk.
Last December, Norfolk County Council and the Government signed an in-principle agreement to transfer key powers and funding to Norfolk – known as a level three county deal. This includes a £20million per year investment fund, plus powers and funding for transport, brownfield regeneration and skills.
Following public consultation earlier this year and further negotiations with the Government, four options were considered by the cabinet this morning:
- Proceeding with the current, in-principle deal, which would see voting for a directly elected leader in May 2024 – a year ahead of the county council elections.
- Proceeding with the current, in-principle deal, but with voting taking place in May 2025, alongside the county council elections, after the Government agreed to allow this option to be considered.
- Going back to Government and negotiating a level two deal, which would mean Norfolk would not receive the £20million per year investment fund and other funding and powers over transport and brownfield sites – but would have adult education funding devolved to the county
- Deciding not to proceed with a devolution deal.
The cabinet has agreed to recommend option two – a level three deal, with an election in May 2025 – to full council, which meets on December 12.
Cllr Kay Mason Billig, the county council’s leader, said she favoured a level three deal with a leader elected in May 2025 because it would “save money by taking place at the same time as the county council elections, and giving more time to prepare and to involve the public and partners”.
She said Norfolk had already gained additional benefits from negotiating with the Government over the last year and was being considered for up to £9.4million of extra funding for community and infrastructure schemes.
Cllr Mason Billig said she was being encouraged by businesses and other key partners to be bold and pursue a level three deal. An elected leader for Norfolk would join the existing ten elected mayors in meetings with the Government.
She said: “If we don’t take this step, I don’t believe the people of Norfolk will forgive us. We will be put at the back of the queue for further funding and will be left in the wilderness by Westminster.”
Cllr Andrew Jamieson, deputy leader of the council, added: “I’m extremely pleased we are recommending a full level three deal, to get all of the financial benefits and the devolved powers on offer to us.”
The full county council meets at 10am next Tuesday to decide whether to accept the cabinet’s recommendation.
Cllr Terry Parish, the leader of West Norfolk Council, previously called for devolution plans in the county to be delayed until our area is offered more money by the Government.
At the borough council’s full meeting on November 23, he faced criticism for the stance from Conservative Group leader Cllr Stuart Dark, who told him to “stop getting in the way”.