Government must not force a mayor on Suffolk

Peter Aldous, Conservative MP for Waveney.

Peter Aldous, Conservative MP for Waveney. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Elected mayors must not be a 'prerequisite' of a devolution deal, Lowestoft MP Peter Aldous has said as he pushed the Government to make county devolution deals. Speaking in a debate in the House of Commons the MP, who is chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Counties, urged the Government to come to an agreement with county councils and not just city regions.

His comments come after Norfolk and Suffolk county and district leaders met in Ipswich this week for crunch talks over how the region could win more power from Westminster.

Norfolk and Suffolk leaders submitted separate expressions of interest in September, but more detailed proposals are now being worked up for a cross-border deal.

South Norfolk council leader John Fuller, who was at the meeting, said: 'There are concerns that positions hadn't been fully formed. Nobody wanted to see a proposal that went off half-cock and was missing key elements on transport, finance, double devolution and most importantly what it means to the man on the street. There was satisfaction that these will be addressed before an exploratory meeting with ministers on November 4.'

A delegation is expected to travel to Westminster next month for more detailed talks about the plans.

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Mr Aldous said: 'Only with devolution to the counties can the Devolution Bill realise its full potential, with local people and businesses having a greater say in the governance of their counties and it is vital that more deals are awarded to county areas such as Suffolk as soon as possible. With regard to governance, mayors do not represent the best way forward for counties at the present time and it is important that the policy of mayors as a prerequisite to be awarded a Devolution Deals is reconsidered.'

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