A meeting of Norfolk County Council due to take place on Monday 21st November to consider devolution has today been cancelled.
Cliff Jordan, Leader of the Council said: “After consultation with the Vice-Chairman of the County Council (in the absence of the Chairman) and the Managing Director, the Vice-Chairman has agreed to cancel Monday’s extraordinary council meeting.”
King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council yesterday voted to withdraw from the process of setting up a Mayoral Combined Authority for Norfolk and Suffolk. The Borough Council was one of 12 participating councils seeking consent from their members to an Order creating the Norfolk and Suffolk Combined Authority.
Mr Jordan said: “The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has been clear throughout the devolution process that for a Combined Authority to be set up all participating councils would need to consent to his draft Order. As a result of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk’s decision, we understand the Secretary of State will be writing to the Norfolk and Suffolk authorities to take the current devolution deal off the table.
“Although it is short notice, the King’s Lynn council meeting having only taken place yesterday evening, it would be a waste of public money to bring members into the Council unnecessarily on Monday to debate a deal which is no longer available to us.
“I will be making clear to the Secretary of State that Norfolk County Council continues to be willing to discuss alternative proposals.”
The cancellation follows a vote in Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Council which decisively rejected the Government proposed scheme which would have seen some extra powers and budget given to a large authority which would be controlled by a single elected mayor. Many people have expressed concern about forcing a diverse region to reduce democratic accountability effectively to one single person. It seems that the current responsible Minister, Sajid Javid has failed to persuade even his own Party’s district councillors to accept the Faustian pact on offer.
Norwich City Council had rejected the devolution principles at an earlier stage and only South Norfolk and Broadland Councils appeared to show any enthusiasm for the scheme which planned to take Local Government strategic spending into the same remarkably unpopular structure that has been applied to Police forces with the creation of Police and Crime Commissioners.
Directly elected mayors were introduced by the Blair Government and are not to be confused with elected local dignitaries such as the Lord Mayor of Norwich, who perform many civic functions but have little actual power beyond chairing council meetings. Directly elected mayors are given huge powers and have until recently almost exclusively gone to white male figures known for their ego and ambition. Examples elected included Boris Johnson in London and a monkey in Hartlepool.