Cambridgeshire will work with Norfolk and Suffolk on three county devolution proposals after all

Communities Secretary Greg Clark. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Communities Secretary Greg Clark. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire leaders are set to work on a new blueprint for a devolution deal between the three counties after a meeting with Westminster top brass today.

Communities secretary Greg Clark and his advisor Lord Heseltine travelled to Cambridge to meet business and political leaders today just weeks after Cambridgeshire wrote to Norfolk and Suffolk to say it was not interested in joining forces.

But following a letter from minister and Norfolk MP George Freeman last week urging business leaders to support a three county solution, local leaders have agreed to look again.

Mr Clark said there had been a lot of 'excitement' and 'enthusiasm' about a potential devolution deal at today's meeting where new powers over housing, skills and transport from Westminster and Whitehall were discussed.

He said: 'All of the leaders and the Leps [local enterprise partnerships] will now talk to say what the concrete asks of a proposal will be, bearing in mind that different areas have different aspirations.'

'For some it may be transport links they want to see, for others it is on skills and how they can make sure there is greater influence and control over training for people coming into the workforce, for others it is housing. 'Each of them will consider the key things they would like to see devolved and then we will bring them together for further conversations to see if that is compatible for what the government is able to agree to.'

Norfolk and Suffolk submitted separate bids to the government in September, but have been working together since then and made overtures to Cambridgeshire late last year.

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Questioned on whether a deal which would involve Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire councils was the only deal in town, Mr Clark said: 'It needs to be at the right level of ambition and geography. I am not convinced that having micro-deals lives up to the potential of the area of being one of the strongest motors of the whole national economy at a time in its history when it is poised to become even more successful and celebrated than it is already.'

George Nobbs, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: 'It was an extremely positive meeting and all the people there have agreed to go away and urgently work on a practical set of proposals for a devolved authority that would include Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, including Peterborough. We expect to be working intensely on that over the next few days.'

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