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Last rites pronounced on Norfolk-Suffolk devolution deal

King's Lynn town hall, one of the buildings that will feature in the study day ANL-160831-125830001
King's Lynn town hall, one of the buildings that will feature in the study day ANL-160831-125830001

Devolution for Norfolk is dead – at least in its present form.

A meeting of Norfolk County Council due to take place on Monday to consider devolution was cancelled this afternoon.

It came the day after West Norfolk Council effectively sunk the plan to have a directly-elected mayor for Norfolk and Suffolk at its meeting last night by voting heavily against it.

Cliff Jordan, leader of the council said: “After consultation with the vice-chairman of the county council (in the absence of the chairman) and the managing director, the vice-chairman has agreed to cancel Monday’s extraordinary council meeting.”

West Norfolk Council yesterday voted to withdraw from the process of setting up a Mayoral Combined Authority for Norfolk and Suffolk. The borough was one of 12 participating councils seeking consent from their members to an Order creating the Norfolk and Suffolk Combined Authority.

Mr Jordan said: “The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has been clear throughout the devolution process that for a Combined Authority to be set up all participating councils would need to consent to his draft Order. As a result of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk’s decision, we understand the Secretary of State will be writing to the Norfolk and Suffolk authorities to take the current devolution deal off the table.

“Although it is short notice, the King’s Lynn council meeting having only taken place yesterday evening, it would be a waste of public money to bring members into the council unnecessarily on Monday to debate a deal which is no longer available to us.

“I will be making clear to the Secretary of State that Norfolk County Council continues to be willing to discuss alternative proposals.”

Jennie Jenkins, chairwoman of Suffolk’s public sector leaders group said: “It was disappointing news to hear the results of the votes at King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council last night and it appears as though this means that there will not be an agreement reached for a Norfolk and Suffolk devolution deal at this time.

“However, it is important for those of us in Suffolk who wish to explore the potential opportunities for devolution further, to continue conversations with government and to meet as planned during the next seven days to vote on the commitment previously given to each respective authority in Suffolk.

“We will be seeking to explore the potential for a Suffolk-based devolution deal and to investigate options for establishing interim governance arrangements for any such alternative deal.”

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