Should Norfolk and Suffolk join forces to bid for an Eastern powerhouse deal?

Mark Bee and George Nobbs at Beccles bridge.

Mark Bee and George Nobbs at Beccles bridge. - Credit: Archant

Norfolk council leaders still want to work with neighbouring Suffolk on a bid to win economic powers from Whitehall.

Suffolk has forged ahead with its own devolution deal plans ahead of a first round of bidding in September after chancellor George Osborne said he wanted to extend his 'Northern Powerhouse' plans to all parts of the country.

While Suffolk leader Colin Noble has said he would be willing to consider a deal, he questioned how a bid for powers and budgets might come together.

While there are no specific proposals yet, those working on the issue in Suffolk are looking at a model based very much on the existing county boundaries.

Following a meeting with Norfolk leaders George Nobbs, the leader of Norfolk County Council, said there was a 'general enthusiasm' to embrace the government's devolution proposals and officers had been tasked with drawing up options for the region.

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'It should be no surprise that as well as being anxious to work together in Norfolk there is also a desire to work with our nearest neighbours in Suffolk, although we understand Suffolk County Council is working on its own proposals and we certainly don't want to constrain these.'

But he said the New Anglia Local Enterprise - which covers Norfolk and Suffolk - would need to be an 'essential component' of any devolution deal involving the transfer of government funding.

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'There's no doubt there is a desire to work together on this, including, but not exclusively, with Suffolk. It will require a great deal of negotiations and good will, which I'm confident will be forthcoming judging from this week's very constructive meeting,' he said.

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