Entering hostile territory? George Osborne makes secret visit to Norfolk
- Credit: SAC Hannah Beevers
George Osborne secretly visited East Anglia this week, as opposition to his devolution plans gathered momentum.
The chancellor visited RAF Marham on Wednesday morning where he met ground and air crew involved in ongoing military operations in the Middle East.
He also met with representatives of the Jon Egging Trust, a charity which co-ordinates activities at the base for young people aimed at boosting their confidence and raising aspirations.
But he did not meet any of the leaders who were cosignatories of a draft devolution agreement which would pave the way for £30m to be handed over from the Treasury each year for the next 30 years, along with infrastructure and strategic planning powers and £175m for housing building.
Journalists were not invited to cover the visit and ask questions, and the green light for a press release to be issued was only given after he had left Norfolk.
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It is understood that Mr Osborne had wanted to visit East Anglia last month to herald the devolution deal with East Anglia he announced in the budget.
Council leaders were put on standby for a visit to Ipswich just days after his economic blueprint was unveiled, but the meeting never materialised after Cambridgeshire County Council voted to send the deal back to the Treasury.
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Many of the councillors were concerned about agreeing to a directly elected mayor and amount of money offered in the initial deal.
A Conservative MP and other councillors from across the political divide have also criticised the proposal.