How Norfolk and Suffolk’s neighbours are shaping up for a mayoral contest next year

The East Anglia flag. Only Cambridgeshire is getting an elected mayor. The East Anglia-wide deal was

The East Anglia flag. Only Cambridgeshire is getting an elected mayor. The East Anglia-wide deal was rejected. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Proposals for a Norfolk and Suffolk mayor hit the buffers when West Norfolk council voted against the plans. But just a few miles away Cambridgeshire is gearing up for a contest next year. Political editor Annabelle Dickson reports.

What has happened?

While Norfolk and Suffolk's devolution deal was taken off the table last month by ministers after West Norfolk Council rejected the proposal, in Cambridgeshire, plans for an elected mayor are forging ahead.

Cambridgeshire County Council and Cambridge City Council were the final two authorities to back the plans which will see a combined authority with representatives from seven councils and the local enterprise partnership chaired by a directly elected mayor created next year.

What did Cambridgeshire get in its deal?

The terms of an original three county deal between Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire were split into two brother and sister deals.

Cambridge City Council – which had rejected initial devolution plans – fell behind a new proposal after a £70m five-year fund for a Cambridge Housing Plan, which will be spent on 500 new council homes was created. The rest of the area will also get £100m for an affordable housing fund over five years and a new £20m annual fund for the next 30 years to support economic growth, development of local transport infrastructure and jobs.

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What happens now?

The legislation will be laid in parliament to create a combined authority and pave the way for elections for the mayor. Cambridgeshire County Council leader Steve Count is interim chairman at the moment. The first meeting of the new group will be held next Wednesday at 11am in Peterborough and official votes for a chairman and deputy chairman of a shadow combined authority will be held then.

The body is expected to get its first £20m cheque in February or March and then another cash injection in April.

Who will get a vote for a mayor?

Everybody living in the Cambridgeshire County Council area and the Peterborough unitary authority area.

When will the mayoral elections be held?

The contest is due to be held on May 4, 2017.

Who are the runners and riders?

South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen surprised Conservative colleagues by being one of the first out of the blocks in the party nomination race this week. The Tory ticket will be a coveted spot on the ballot paper given how many Conservative MPs there are in the area.

Cambridgeshire County Council leader Steve Count has not ruled out standing, but said he was waiting to see what the process was.

Entrepreneur Peter Dawe has already sold his Cambridge TV station, claiming it would have conflicted with his political ambition to be the county mayor. He wants to be an independent candidate.

Cambridge city councillor Kevin Price has put his name forward to be the Labour candidate for the mayoral job too, along with Peterborough Labour councillor Ed Murphy.

What is the latest on the Norfolk and Suffolk deal?

There is no more official news. Leaders of the two councils met a week after West Norfolk council rejected the plans. Those who were in favour of the plan agreed to keep a dialogue open with the government.

Sir Henry Bellingham claims that there could be another opportunity for Norfolk in about a year's time.

Will the new combined authority work with Norfolk and Suffolk?

Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said it had an 'excellent track record' of working closely with colleagues in Cambridgeshire, particularly when delivering cross-border transport and infrastructure projects, on initiatives such as the Cambridge Norwich Tech Corridor and that they both invested in Agri-Tech which was driving innovation and growth in our leading agriculture and food sector.

'We look forward to working closely with the mayor and combined authority to deliver on an exciting range projects that will reinforce the position of the East as a leader in the global economy.'

Cambridgeshire County Council leader Steve Count said he wanted to have good conversations in every direction from Cambridgeshire.

He said that it would be talking to neighbours 'regardless of whether they have a combined authority or a mayor'.

Plans for 'sub-national' transport bodies were also being considered and the geography would have to be considered.