Norfolk County Council leader calls for devolution debate and vote two weeks before final vote
- Credit: Submitted
Norfolk County Council leader Cliff Jordan has been accused of calling a ' totally unnecessary' meeting to discuss devolution two weeks before the official vote.
Mr Jordan claims he needs to be given executive power by his councillors if he is to obtain information to help them decide whether or not to press ahead with plans for an elected mayor for Norfolk and Suffolk.
A make or break final vote will be held by the councils which have opted into the deal, with the crunch Norfolk decision due to be held on November 21. But Mr Jordan has called an extra meeting on November 7 to ask councillors to give him the green light to proceed with process. He claims that under the committee system he was only given the power to hold a consultation across Norfolk, but he now needs to seek executive powers to be fully involved in discussions.
He said the meeting might create a perception that he is trying to ditch the plans early, but insisted 'it is nothing to do with that.'
But his predecessor, the Labour group leader George Nobbs insisted that Mr Jordan did not need the authority, adding: 'This meeting is totally unnecessary and it is another Cliff Jordan stunt.'
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'We have got a scheduled meeting on November 21 which we have known about for weeks and weeks and it is a crunch meeting. I can only conclude that Cliff wishes to avoid a defeat for himself and his policies. He is trying to demote the blame from himself onto the council at large and pre-empt the proper scheduled decision making process by having a snap meeting which many people may not be able to attend and will put the onus on the council members to make the decision so he can claim his hands are tied.'
Mr Jordan said the opt-out by four authorities created the impression of a divided Norfolk, with no quick route for those authorities to be brought into this process before the mayoral elections in May 2017,' he said.
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'This creates a particular issue for the county council, which has a role to represent the whole of Norfolk. Against this background, as leader I want to have direction to proceed from full council as we enter into a busy period of discussions before the final vote takes place later in the month.'