City Hall leader’s warning over Norwich devolution deal

Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council. Pic: Jeff Taylor.

Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council. Pic: Jeff Taylor. - Credit: Archant

The vital role of Norwich in driving economic growth means it must be protected from being 'lost' under a devolution deal, the city council's leader has warned.

The Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill is making its way through Parliament - a bill which would see the government devolve more powers to local government.

But the bill focuses on handing those powers to combined authorities, where two or more councils join forces to share functions.

And Alan Waters, Labour leader at City Hall, said it was important that any devolution deal in Norfolk recognised Norwich's importance.

He said: 'In any devolution settlement, given the emphasis on 'rebalancing' the British economy it is vital that stand-alone cities like Norwich are not lost in a big combined authority.

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'If that were to happen it would dilute the role Norwich and Greater Norwich has in driving economic growth and this would be not only to the detriment of Greater Norwich but also to the region.'

Mr Waters said more than 50pc of all jobs in Norfolk were in Greater Norwich (Norwich plus parts of Broadland and South Norfolk), while 50pc of all planned housing growth and 52pc of planned jobs growth in the county is also in that area.

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He said: 'Norwich is working closely with the Key Cities Group and its partners on the Greater Norwich Growth Board to make a strongly evidenced case to the Secretary of State that Greater Norwich should have a central role in any

devolution settlement for the East of England.'

Norfolk County Council recently agreed to start a review of what devolution could mean for Norfolk. That will see the exploration of the possibility of single tier authorities – known as unitary councils – along with combined authorities or other partnerships.

The opposition Conservatives warned that could be viewed as declaration of war on district councils – less than a decade after proposals for a unitary Norfolk posited their abolition and sparked a bitter battle.

George Nobbs, Labour leader at County Hall, said of the review there would be a unitary Norfolk 'over my dead body'.

• Do you have a story about a local council? Call reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email

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