Peter Aldous raises concerns that East Anglian devolution is being rushed

27th April 2016

Peter Aldous supports devolution but raises concerns that there is a general feeling that it is being rushed and he calls on the Government to pause to work with local people to produce a long-term strategic plan for East Anglian devolution.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Crausby. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr Jackson) on securing the debate. I am a supporter of devolution, but on the feedback I receive from Suffolk, and from my constituency in particular, a lot of work needs to be done to ensure that the devolution deal has local support and will work. There is concern that the deal is being rushed in a way that adds bureaucratic complexity and blurs the lines of accountability.

As we have heard, much of Cambridgeshire is opposed to the deal at present and the idea of an elected mayor does not currently have public support. There is concern that another layer of local government is being added and the challenge of considering removing a tier is being sidestepped. If there is to be a mayor, we need to consider carefully their role and responsibilities, and how those will tie in with the work that councils will continue to do. What happens to the police and crime commissioners? Who will be responsible for the other blue-light services? How can national and local government best work together to meet the health and social care challenge of an ageing population, which is a huge issue in East Anglia?

There are many unanswered questions. There is a need for a pause to allow us to work with local people to produce a long-term strategic plan for East Anglian devolution. We must confront the devil in the detail now, and come up with a proposal that will have public support.

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