Norfolk and Suffolk elected mayor latest: Draft document still leaves some unhappy

The East Anglia flag flying at County Hall in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The East Anglia flag flying at County Hall in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

A £25m annual price-tag for a Norfolk and Suffolk elected mayor could be demanded from the government, according to leaked documents as the clock ticks on a devolution deal.

The latest draft proposals which are set to go to grassroots councillors this month, seen by the EDP, also include £100m to help build more houses across the two counties over the next five years.

The document, drawn up by local council officials, which was sent to council leaders on Friday, could yet change after leaders meet again on Wednesday to hammer out a final blueprint which needs to be published at the end of this week.

But despite weeks of meetings and behind-the-scenes work, some leaders are still unhappy about the plans for an elected mayor and have concerns about the amount of money available.

A three-county deal announced in March worth £30m a year, with £175m for housing, has been rejected by Cambridgeshire and separate 'brother and sister' deals are now being worked up.

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Norwich City Council leader Alan Waters said the last minute push from the government for a three county deal had taken up time and had prevented the more detailed piece of work around Norfolk and Suffolk and he has cast doubt on the elected mayor plan.

He also has concerns about whether it presented an opportunity for genuinely affordable housing and the cost of being part of a combined authority to councils which have seen their budgets cut.

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South Norfolk council leader John Fuller said: 'It looks like we could be inching towards a deal that is becoming more acceptable to the majority. Whether the rate of progress is fast enough to get us to the deadlines that have been set remains to be seen.'

Conservative Breckland council leader William Nunn said while it was something they would like to see happen, the three county deal had left Norfolk and Suffolk with a matter of weeks to get back on the same page.

'It is really unfortunate because, given more time, we would have had more of an opportunity to get people on the right page and understand the opportunities this offers in terms of deal one, two and three.'

He said he thought they were asking for £30m each year for infrastructure and £100m for housing, which was in the original deal. His members were concerned they did not understand the detail of devolution, he said.

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