Prime minister David Cameron says he is in ‘listening mode’ over controversial elected mayor plan
- Credit: PA
Prime minister David Cameron has insisted he is in 'listening mode' over the controversial plans for an elected mayor for East Anglia.
He insisted the budget announcement of £30m each year for 30 years to be overseen by an elected figurehead for Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire was an 'exciting prospect' – but insisted that it would not be done against the will of local councils.
Some Cambridgeshire councillors do not want to join forces with Norfolk and Suffolk and leaders are currently drawing up a formal proposal to send to the government which is likely to ask for a separate authority.
Mr Cameron yesterday struck a different tone to James Wharton – a junior minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government – who said last month that he had no intention of changing the geography of the agreement signed ahead of the budget.
But questioned by regional political journalists on whether there was room for compromise, Mr Cameron said: 'If suddenly everyone comes back to us and says we would like to do it in a different way and a different format then...we are not trying to force these things on people.
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'We have come up with the plan and the resources and the ability to put these things in place, but if local areas want to change what they want to do, we are in listening mode.'
Cambridgeshire County Council leader Steve Count said his councillors had agreed to approach the government to see if it was possible to have a separate deal for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
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He said a formal approach by Cambridgeshire leaders was being put together.
A previous letter from Cambridgeshire County Council raising concerns about the deal following its council meeting has not had a formal response as the government.
The government has said it needs a formal proposal to consider. Mr Count said the prime minister's words were 'very encouraging'.
'We were told at the very start it was from the ground up.
'One of the problems we have had building everything is you have up to 23 leaders in a room trying to reach an agreement – which we finally managed to agree – and then a lot of us have discovered we haven't buoyed our members along back home.
'Once we got to the fine print – which we couldn't see until we agreed it – perhaps there is something different we can do.'
What do you think of the devolution plans? Email EDPletters@archant.co.uk