West Norfolk Council leader urges authorities to work together on devolution

Council  Leader Nick Daubney ENGANL00320121220125803
Council Leader Nick Daubney ENGANL00320121220125803
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Councils should work together if they want to bring additional powers to Norfolk, the leader of West Norfolk Council has suggested.

The future of the county’s political structures has been high on the agenda in recent weeks, following the government’s announcement of plans to offer greater devolution to local authorities.

Last month, Norfolk County Council voted narrowly in favour of a motion seeking a review of all the available options for restructuring.

But that provoked fears that proposals to scrap the district authorities and create a single unitary council for Norfolk, which were dropped five years ago, may be brought back onto the agenda.

And, addressing the issue at last Thursday’s West Norfolk Council meeting, leader Nick Daubney maintained councils should co-operate with each other.

He said: “I am of the opinion that working in good constructive partnership with close colleagues can bring a prize to Norfolk.

“It’s important to recognise this is not a bribe. There is no extra money.

“What the government is saying is can you spend our money better than we can.”

Ahead of the meeting, councillors were given a briefing on the government’s proposals and the potential options the authority could take up.

But Mr Daubney has already signalled his opposition to any moves towards reviving the unitary idea, which he believes would not be sensible.

However, others have argued that no options can be ruled out, given the expectation of even more severe cuts to the level of funding which councils receive from central government.

In recent years, many councils, including West Norfolk, have worked more closely together to pool resources in individual work areas.

And county council officials have warned that further similar work is likely to be required in order to sustain services over the coming years.