People in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are being asked for their views on the creation of a Combined Authority and directly elected mayor for the area as part of a new devolution deal.
Launched today, the public consultation will run until Tuesday 23 August 2016.
Seven councils and the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP) have joined together to ask government for some powers, responsibilities and funding to be transferred from central government to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
This means a greater number of decisions on public services would be made locally, rather than nationally.
In the past few weeks, councils have voted to put a Cambridgeshire and Peterborough devolution deal out to public consultation. Councillors want to hear what the public thinks about putting powers and funding, normally decided by government, into the hands of local people.
In the new deal, local people could have control over a new £600 million fund (£20 million annual fund) to improve transport and infrastructure, as well as £170 million for housing.
The councils believe that a devolution deal for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough would be an opportunity to boost jobs, transport and affordable homes across the county.
It is proposed to form a Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority chaired by a directly elected mayor. The deal could bring about the following benefits for the area:
- a new £20 million annual fund for the next 30 years (£600 million) to support economic growth, development of local infrastructure and jobs
- a new £100 million housing fund to be invested over the next five years to build more homes in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, including affordable, rent and shared ownership
- a new £70 million fund to be used to build more council rented homes in Cambridge over the next five years because house prices are so high in the city
- building on the case to develop the Wisbech Garden Town and the Wisbech-Cambridge rail connection
- providing new homes across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, including affordable homes in Greater Cambridge
- transport infrastructure improvements such as the A14/A142 junction and upgrades to the A10 and the A47, as well as Ely North junction. It would also support infrastructure development which will unlock the housing potential at Wyton and the development of a new Master Plan for St Neots
- rail improvements, including a new station at Soham, (new rolling stock, improved King’s Lynn, Cambridge, London rail)
- investment in a Peterborough University with degree-awarding powers
- a local integrated job service working alongside the Department for Work and Pensions
- co-designing with government a National Work and Health Programme focussed on those with a health condition or disability, as well as the long-term unemployed
- integrating local health and social care resources to provide better outcomes for residents
- a devolved skills and apprenticeship budget to give more opportunities to our young people
- working with government to secure a Peterborough Enterprise Zone – attracting investment from business, leading to more and better quality jobs for residents
- working with government on the continued regeneration of Peterborough city centre.
This proposal is to be the first in a series of proposals which devolve more funding and powers from government to this area.
A Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority would include a councillor from each of the local councils and the Local Enterprise Partnership.
In order to receive the funding and to make decisions more locally, government requires that there is an elected mayor. This means local people will be given the chance to directly elect their choice to become mayor, to chair and lead the Combined Authority.
There would also be checks and balances with representatives of the partner organisations, making sure any decisions are made democratically. No powers will be taken away from councils without their consent.
Executive Leader, Cllr Robin Howe, said: "The real power of devolution is to delegate decision making to local people, be they politicians, council officers or residents, all of whom are located within a 30 mile radius; as opposed to those decisions being taken remotely by officials in Westminster. Over the next six weeks we will be explaining the devolution deal in detail and giving residents an opportunity to express their views."
The deal has been negotiated with government by Cambridgeshire County Council, Peterborough City Council, Cambridge City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council, Fenland District Council, Huntingdonshire District Council, East Cambridgeshire District Council and the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership.
Residents are now being asked for their views on the devolution deal for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
For Cambridgeshire residents please look on your district or city council website or go to www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/devolutionsurvey
For Peterborough residents visit www.peterborough.gov.uk/devolution to have your say or pick up a consultation form and read the supporting information at your local library, Bayard Place or the Town Hall. Frequently asked questions, along with other useful information, are available online.
The Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership will be consulting with businesses. Councils will also be carrying out a telephone survey over the course of the consultation to make sure our feedback is representative of residents across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
Once the public consultation concludes, responses will be reviewed and each council will then have to formally agree the deal later this year. This means the government could give final approval to a deal before the end of the year.