The first elections for a new mayor-style leader for Norfolk County Council look likely to be delayed for a year.

The Conservative-controlled cabinet has agreed to recommend to the full council that the authority proceeds with a devolution deal - but at a slower pace.

But the decision has been branded "shambolic" by critics.

The deal would give the council new powers and money, devolved from Westminster.

But at a meeting on Monday the cabinet - made up of senior Tory councillors - voted to recommend that the election of the new directly elected leader of the county council, a requirement of the deal, be put off.

Eastern Daily Press: Norfolk County Council leader Kay Mason BilligNorfolk County Council leader Kay Mason Billig (Image: Norfolk County Council)

That vote is due in May next year, but County Hall leader Kay Mason Billig said she had negotiated a potential delay with local government secretary Michael Gove.

She said a delay would allow money to be saved by coordinating the election with scheduled County Hall elections in 2025.

She said it would allow extra time to inform the public.

The idea of a 'county deal' - which would see a transfer of power from Whitehall to Norfolk County Council - was agreed in principle almost a year ago.

The deal includes an investment fund of £20m a year for 30 years, control of the £12m budget for adult education, and £7m for brownfield development.

Mrs Mason Billig said: “If we don’t take this step, I don’t believe the people of Norfolk would forgive us.”

She said Norfolk could not afford to be “left in the wilderness”.

She said, once the 'level three' deal is in place, that could give Norfolk the chance to go for a 'level four' deal - giving even more powers and influence.

Mrs Mason Billig said it would give the county “a seat at the top table”.

The final decision to change the council’s constitution rests with full council, which had been due to decide next week.

However, it is understood that decision will now be taken next year.

The opposition Liberal Democrat group said the delay provided “much needed breathing room to iron out any governance concerns and engage with local people, local business and district councils”.

Eastern Daily Press: Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at County HallSteve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at County Hall (Image: Copyright: Archant 2017)

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at County Hall said: “This is shambolic. Norfolk Tories told us this was the best thing since sliced bread and the only game in town.

”It's simply not. If it really was a good deal Norfolk Tories should be going for elections in May.”

The deal has prompted criticism, including from Conservative South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller.