Councillors have welcomed the outcome of a public consultation on proposals to devolve power and hundreds of millions of pounds of funding from Westminster to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
The consultation was launched in July and finished in August. It included a proportionally representative Ipsos MORI phone poll of 2,280 residents, as well as an online survey which 1,500 people completed, plus comments from business, community groups, parish councils and other organisations.
The scale of the response has surpassed similar consultations in other devolution areas.
In addition, the Ipsos MORI poll results have a 95% confidence level.
Government has asked areas across the UK to take advantage of new devolution deals but have stated that, in order to get the benefits, the combined authority must have a directly elected mayor.
Results from the consultation show that the majority of people support devolving powers from government. This is especially true for putting decisions over areas such as transport, jobs, housing and skills into the hands of local people.
There was strong support for the proposed devolution deal and an elected mayor in the MORI poll, where more than twice the number of people supported a mayor than opposed one.
Equally the business community has voiced strong and clear support for devolution and for a mayor.
However, those who responded via the online poll were less convinced about an elected mayor and there were concerns about the potential for the proposals to create additional bureaucracy.
Each Cambridgeshire and Peterborough partner organisation will be meeting in late October and early November to decide whether they should press ahead with the proposal.
Cllr Robin Howe, Executive Leader of Huntingdonshire District Council, said:
"The formation of the combined authority would mean that, from 2017, Huntingdonshire would play a key role in setting the priorities for the strategic development of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough region.
"Today, most strategic decisions for our region are taken from and funded by, Whitehall; often without a full appreciation of local priorities and timetables. Devolution means budgets for many of our major projects will be held locally and prioritised and released according to local need. The elected mayor and a cabinet of local council leaders and representative from the business community will develop and implement strategic plans covering housing development, transportation, education and skills among others and these will be financed from locally held funds devolved from central government.
"So, Huntingdonshire will have a seat at the table at which these decisions will be taken and, this will ensure that local priorities and requirements can be measured and satisfied.
"The mayor will play a key part in the establishment, management and development of the combined authority. He or she will become an advocate and figurehead for the region and needs to possess the skills and experience required to represent the region towards the government, potential British and foreign investors and to the political and business community in the UK and abroad.
"Devolution means we are taking a major step towards genuinely localised government, and I hope that these conclusive consultation results will convince the elected members of the district council to vote FOR the resolution to become a combined authority at our meeting on 19 October."
The consultation showed that around 63% of people surveyed as part of the MORI poll had heard of devolution in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
The Ipsos MORI poll, which has a 95% level of confidence that the views expressed represent those of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough population, found:
- support for the principle of devolution - 55% for and 15% opposed
- should powers be devolved from government to district, city and county councils as part of a combined authority - 61% for and 15% opposed
- support for a mayor as part of a combined authority to access the benefits of the proposed deal - 57% for and 25% opposed.
The online poll, which was self-selecting and invited people to have their say, found:
- support for the principle of devolution - 55% for and 37% opposed
- should powers be devolved from government to district, city and county councils as part of a Combined Authority - 44% for and 47% opposed
- support for a mayor as part of a combined authority to access the benefits of the proposed deal - 31% for and 59% opposed.
Business and stakeholders gave clear support for devolution, a combined authority to access the deal and an elected mayor.
The community was also asked a series of questions around governance and about whether they backed certain powers and funding being decided locally around transport, housing, jobs and skills. It was clear from the results in all surveys that residents supported decisions being made locally.
A report on the consultation has been sent to the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, so that the government can see the level of local support for the proposals. View the full report to government.