On Air Now
Heart Breakfast with Jamie Theakston and Lucy Horobin 6:30am - 10am
The Chancellor George Osborne has announced an East Anglia wide Devolution Deal for all of Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.
Today's Budget announced an ambitious £900m over 30 years Mayoral devolution deal with East Anglia, covering Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and also sees major investment in strengthening the region's specialisms in science and research as well as a massive £151m cash injection for two transformative infrastructure projects.
East Anglia's new devolution deal will see a new "Metro Mayor" chair the new East Anglia Combined Authority with control over a £900m investment fund over 30 years, and £175m ring-fenced for housing, ensuring that East Anglia becomes part of the devolution revolution that is sweeping the country.
There's a massive £151m of investment to improve infrastructure that will transform connectivity in the region with investment for the Ipswich Wet Dock Crossing and the Lowestoft 3rd Crossing.
In addition, there's £7.2m to fill 136,000 potholes in the East of England over the next year and news that the government has asked Lord Heseltine to lead the Thames Estuary 2050 Growth Commission.
And to further boost the East's expertise in science and research, the government will spend £50 million to help build a new world-leading centre for food and health research, called the Quadram Institute, at the Norwich Research Park.
Chancellor George Osborne said:
The East of England is a vital part of our economy and this Budget gives it a big boost.
It is an area already benefitting from the action we have taken, with more people in work than any other region in the UK, and my Budget today delivers the next step of our long term plan to make sure Britain is fit for the future.
With the devolution deal they have signed, the civic leaders from Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and 18 local districts, have joined together to take on new powers over transport, skills and planning almost a billion pounds invested locally. This will all be headed up by an elected mayor - handing the East of England a powerful, accountable, new national voice and showing that our devolution revolution is taking place across the country.
If Britain is to be fit for the future we must build more infrastructure, despite the uncertainty in the global economy, and with over £150m to develop two of the East's most important projects, we are backing your region with vital investment.
"This is budget that delivers for the East of England and puts the next generation first."
Specifically for the East of England the Chancellor announced:
* A £900m mayoral devolution deal over 30 years, covering Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, giving the local area new powers over transport, planning, skills with £175 million ring-fenced to deliver new homes
* £151m to deliver the transformational Ipswich Wet Dock Crossing and the Lowestoft 3rd Crossing
* Over £7m to fill 136,000 potholes in 2016/17 in the East of England
* £50m to build a new world-leading centre for food and health research, called the Quadram Institute, at the Norwich Research Park
* The National Infrastructure Commission has been asked to produce plan for unlocking growth, housing and jobs in the Cambridge - Milton Keynes - Oxford corridor, creating a highly-skilled area that competes on a global stage
* £90,000 to Birth Companions to provide support to approximately 500 women in prison and the community through pregnancy, birth and early parenting, in London and Peterborough
* £123,000 to the Magdalene Group for its Doorway Women's Service, a front-line service helping women in Norfolk make healthy lifestyle choices and exit prostitution
* £400,000 to the Civil Service Life Boat Fund from the allocation of banking fines, to contribute to the £1.2m required to commission a new Shannon Class all-weather lifeboat for Wells lifeboat station in Norfolk
* Additionally, 162 museums in the East of England will be eligible to claim a new corporation tax relief
* £5m to fund the redevelopment of St Albans station, which will include new retail units and booking hall improvements
* The East of England is receiving £2.9m across 15 organisations as part of two funding competitions run by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and Innovate UK for R&D into lowering vehicle emissions
Cambridge City Council
Cambridge City Council leader Lewis Herbert told Heart he'll be putting the announcement of the Anglia wide Metro Mayor to the Full Council next week as he doesn't believe it'll be a better deal than the Cambridge and Peterborough Plan. Mr Herbert said that would be put to the vote of councillors on March 23rd.
Norfolk County Council
George Nobbs, Leader of Norfolk County Council, has welcomed the Chancellor of the Exchequer's announcement of a draft devolution agreement for East Anglia in his budget speech today. The deal is worth more than one billion pounds for East Anglia.
Cllr Nobbs said: "This announcement of a draft agreement for East Anglia potentially sees the start of a profound transfer of powers from Whitehall to this region. I have always believed that key decisions on public services are best made by locally elected politicians, answerable to the public, rather than distant bureaucrats in Whitehall.
Each and every council in the region will now debate the draft document as details are worked up. I am personally delighted that this is a deal specficially for East Anglia. This is not a region created by central dictate, it is deeply rooted in English history and has possessed a distinct identity for more than a thousand years."
Suffolk Chamber of Commerce
Sarah Howard MBE, Preisdent of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce: "It has been made clear by Government over recent months that devolution is a key driver of economic growth and today's announcement is a further step towards that aim. The news is welcome and as plans progress it is vital that business is fully engaged in the decision making process since the development and success of devolution will ultimately be dependent on business and economic growth."
Great Yarmouth Borough Council
A joint statement by Cllr Graham Plant, the leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, Cllr Trevor Wainwright, the shadow council leader (Labour group leader), and Cllr Kay Grey, the UKIP group leader.
Cllrs Plant, Wainwright and Grey said: “Great Yarmouth Borough Council has engaged in the devolution process, which has been driven by Government, and has made a commitment to continuing the conversation.
“Devolution offers the potential for Eastern councils to work more closely together and have greater control over funding and decision-making in some key areas, including infrastructure, ensuring public sector investment can be best targeted in the region to unlock sustainable economic growth and its benefits for local communities.
“However, we remain concerned about the governance and cost of a Combined Authority and the powers of a Mayor, and wish to be part of actively shaping any future proposal before a decision is made. Borough councillors will all be given the chance to have their say at full council later in the year and make the final decision for Great Yarmouth.”
Cambridgeshire Chanber of Commerce.
In response to today’s budget announcements John Bridge OBE DL, Chief Executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, said:
“George Osborne concluded his speech by pledging to put the next generation first. We believe that requires investing the right money into transport, infrastructure, skills and housing, not just in ten years’ time but today. It also means producing a devolution deal that is right for Cambridgeshire businesses and enables them to create the jobs and opportunities the next generation is looking to them to provide.
“Any devolution deal should be based on the functional economic geography and necessary investment needed to deal with the already significant infrastructure investment deficit without which continued growth of our Cambridgeshire and Peterborough economies would be at risk.
“We welcome measures that are going to help all businesses, and small businesses in particular, to reduce their costs and tax burden but await the full details that are published to ensure we fully understand exactly the implications. Despite lower economic growth forecasts, still the Chancellor has announced optimistic income that would be generated by reforms to the corporation tax system.
“In light of the revised figures, achieving a surplus in excess of £10 billion in 2019 looks difficult to achieve and with estimates of future increases in productivity also having been downgraded, there are clearly key challenges ahead for the UK economy.
“In terms of what was missing from George Osborne’s speech today, there’s disappointment across the business community that there’s not been a root and branch reform of the business rates system which is widely acknowledged as not being fit for purpose. There is a desperate need for an overhaul of the way in which business rates are valued, collected and set rather than raising limits and altering arrangements for who gets to spend the revenue.”
East Cambridgeshire District Council
East Cambridgeshire District Council is in support of the East Anglia Devolution Deal announced today by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his budget speech. The Deal will now be put to a debate.
Some 22 authorities and The New Anglia LEP for Norfolk and Suffolk have signed to put the Deal in front of their members to debate whether to agree or turn down the proposals, as well as the chance to go back to the Government with new proposals in the Autumn.
East Cambridgeshire District Council has signed up to an agreement to inform and engage with the public and relevant stakeholders to help councillors debate the proposed Devolution Deal for East Anglia.