The terms of a major deal - which would hand Norfolk millions of pounds a year and give the public a direct vote on who should lead the county council - could be announced within weeks.

Government officials have been in talks with Norfolk County Council over a county deal, which would devolve powers from Whitehall to local leaders.

It would also hand the council control of a long-term investment fund, which could be spent on projects like transport and adult learning.

While the details have yet to be revealed, it is understand a figure of a minimum of £20m a year for 30 years for the investment fund has been discussed.

Eastern Daily Press: Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy BurnhamMayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham (Image: PA Wire/PA Images)

Rather than a mayor heading up a combined authority - as is the case with Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham - the county council's negotiations have focused on investing powers in a directly-elected county council leader.

Eastern Daily Press: Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County CouncilAndrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council (Image: Norfolk County Council)

And current County Hall leader Andrew Proctor has revealed the proposed text of the deal which Norfolk is seeking is now in the hands of the government's levelling up secretary Simon Clarke.

Eastern Daily Press: Simon Clarke, minister for levelling up, housing and communitiesSimon Clarke, minister for levelling up, housing and communities (Image: PA Wire/PA Images)

The Conservative-controlled council is not revealing what the terms of the deal being sought are, but Mr Proctor, at a recent council meeting, made clear he is optimistic an announcement on the terms of the deal is close.

Mr Proctor said: "Norfolk is still one of the frontrunners to conclude a deal."

He said the deal's text was with the secretary of state before it is put to other departments at Whitehall.

He said: "When that process is successfully concluded, at least the text of the deal will be there.

"The sort of things it will confirm are the scope of the long-term investment fund and other investment in Norfolk which would flow from it.

"The timing of any announcement about the text of the deal is very much with the government.

"But, bear in mind, we have the prime minister in Norfolk and the deputy prime minister in Suffolk and there are two counties - Norfolk and Suffolk - going for deals, so maybe there might be something around that in terms of a joint announcement."

Eastern Daily Press: Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at Norfolk County CouncilSteve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at Norfolk County Council (Image: Denise Bradley)

Steve Morphew, leader of the opposition Labour group at the county council, criticised the transparency of the process.

He said: "This is another example of a deal being struck behind the backs of Norfolk residents.

"We will be picking it over when the details are announced, but I think people would rather we were talking about the cost of living crisis than the configuration of Norfolk councils."

Mr Proctor said once the deal's text is announced, it would go to full council for consideration, after which there would be "formal public engagement".

He said it would then come back to the county council, which would have the "final say" in the move to an elected leader at the back end of next year before the first election in 2024.