Councillors in Yarmouth set to vote on devolution deal tonight

View from the top of Havenbridge House.Town Hall.October 2015.Picture: James Bass

View from the top of Havenbridge House.Town Hall.October 2015.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

Councillors in Yarmouth are set to vote on Norfolk and Suffolk's ambition for devolution at a meeting of full council tonight, after it was rejected by three other councils.

The East Anglia Devolution Deal was announced in the Budget earlier this year and would see more powers for the East of England, as well as creating the position of an elected mayor.

A report seen by councillors recommends they support the plans, after leaders from all 16 county and district councils - including Yarmouth - signed the devolution agreement with the government.

The endorsement of the plans by councillors would kick off a public consultation from July 4.

Norwich City, Breckland District and North Norfolk District already rejected the revised blueprint, which no longer includes Cambridgeshire as it has been offered a separate deal, and which now has extra money, including £130m for housing.

Other councils are set to decide throughout the week.

A report seen by councillors said: 'The Deal contains very significant new powers and funding for Norfolk and Suffolk and represents an opportunity to gain greater control and influence across a range of issues that directly affect our residents, but are currently decided in Whitehall.

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'It creates a Combined Authority of a size and impact capable of negotiating directly with Government Departments so that our local priorities are recognised and acted upon rather than being sidelined.'

Speaking last week Conservative leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council Graham Plant said he was generally supportive of the deal. He said it was important to get as much as possible out of the deal, and that a commitment to make the third crossing in Yarmouth and the Acle Straight a priority had been written into the plans.

He said: 'The money for housing projects can only be good, especially as it's also to develop brown field sites which in some areas of Yarmouth, for example North Quay, could really be useful.'

He added a lot of the money available would be useful in a deprived area like Yarmouth.

Cllr Plant said: 'We have certain members who do not want an elected mayor but that comes with the money, so that's for members to consider.

'What I will be urging councillors to consider is that it's the government offer which will help the people of Great Yarmouth and there are a lot of benefits going forward.'

But Cllr Plant did have some concerns. He said: 'I want to make sure the powers that councils have now are not taken away from us by a combined authority or an elected mayor.'

He added it was important to him that before any powers were handed over that authorities – including the authority losing powers – would have to agree to do so.