Norfolk and Suffolk leaders have held high-level talks over their bid to win more power from Westminster

File photo dated 17/5/09 of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster.

File photo dated 17/5/09 of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. - Credit: PA

Council leaders, MPs and business leaders were encouraged by communities secretary Greg Clark and former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine to submit a joint devolution proposal – but leaders admit they will still have to 'move at speed'.

A further meeting will be held next week to try to hammer out exactly what new powers they will ask for ahead of an announcement in November, but it looks likely it will involve a new combined authority across Norfolk and Suffolk.

The bid has to be submitted to Whitehall officials in a matter of days with government spending plans being drawn up ahead of the Autumn Statement in November.

Norfolk County Council leader George Nobbs said he had thought there was a 'unanimous view' that the idea would be a combined authority in Norfolk and Suffolk.

'What would make this a deal worth talking about is the Norfolk and Suffolk connection,' he said.

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Mark Pendlington, chairman of the New Anglia local enterprise partnership, said the collaboration at the meeting demonstrated to ministers that leaders were 'really up for it'. But questioned about the detail of exactly what powers the two counties would seek, and who would be accountable, he said: 'We are resisting as best we can not talking about structures and personal interest above what it is we need. We need better skills, better roads. All those things that are so essential to make us a more productive, better economy.

'We don't retrofit the outcome into the structure. We work out what it is we want, what is the scale of our ambition, how can we best achieve this, what is most democratic and accountable, so we don't have offices full of officials. We want a streamlined organisation that is fully accountable to electors.'

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