Suffolk looks to devolution

West Suffolk House, St Edmundsbury ANL-141216-142053001
West Suffolk House, St Edmundsbury ANL-141216-142053001

Suffolk is looking to take on devolved local government powers so that it can make decisions independent of Whitehall.

The seven district councils and county council are being urged to discuss and go forward with the move - dubbed ‘A Devolved Suffolk - Working for a Better Future’.

In a public statement on the countywide devolution bid, Jennie Jenkins, chairman of the county’s public sector leaders group, said: “Devolution is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Suffolk councils to provide services that fit around the needs of our people.

“By working with our many partners in delivering better and more co-ordinated approaches to how we work, we will be well placed to secure our communities’ long-term prosperity and progress.

“We believe that this ‘Suffolk deal’ is a bold first step in realising this ambition and we look forward to working with Government over the following months and beyond to bring it to fruition.”

Suffolk devolution’s aims would see 70,000 new homes built by 2031, better GCSE results, improved health, reductions in the amount spent on benefits, a more skilled workforce including at least 5,000 new apprenticeships by 2020, with a further 2,500 by 2025, and greater productivity and growth of over £18 billion added to the value of the economy by 2025.

Over the next few weeks the Suffolk devolution deal will go to the cabinet or council in each of the eight borough, county and district councils.

Sandy Martin, leader of the county labour group, said: “The Labour Party has always been in favour of giving more power to local people, and we are certainly not going to change our minds about that now. There are dangers and pitfalls to beware of and we will raise those as cautions at the full council meeting on the 17th. If the Government accepts the bid document then the hard discussion about detailed proposals can begin in earnest.”