Could Suffolk get city-style devolution powers?
- Credit: MSDC/PAUL NIXON
Suffolk leaders could be given similar powers to metro mayors in cities and urban areas - after council leaders said they wanted to explore a devolution deal for the county.
Leaders of six local government bodies and Suffolk police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore have written to ministers, saying they are keen to look at transferring more decision-making powers from Westminster to Suffolk.
Suzie Morley, chairwoman of Suffolk Public Sector Leaders, said: “Suffolk is known for working well together.
"Whether it’s partners joining forces during the Covid-19 pandemic, pooling public funding for the greater good or developing shared strategic priorities, collaboration is what we’re good at.
“From inclusive economic growth and community safety to climate change and strong communities, we’re focused on collaborative actions that deliver the biggest and best additional benefits for our communities."
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In a joint letter to local government secretary Robert Jenrick, the leaders of Ipswich, Babergh, West Suffolk, Mid Suffolk, East Suffolk and Suffolk County councils and Mr Passmore said: “Suffolk is a large eastern county, with rurality, coastal communities, market towns and larger urban centres and is an ideal place to help government demonstrate how levelling up can work in diverse geographies."
Ms Morley, leader of Mid Suffolk, added: “We believe this makes Suffolk a strong contender to work with the Government as part of its levelling up agenda."
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The idea has been backed by the county's seven MPs, who also want to meet Mr Jenrick soon.
They said: “We believe this unity of purpose behind taking the next step in devolution through a county deal can not just help persuade you that we should be in the vanguard of the next stage of devolution, but also that Suffolk can use such a deal to deliver better services locally.
“This is not a recent or short-lived view.
"For many years local leaders in Suffolk at all levels have worked more closely together, and have put forward constructive propositions for further improvements.
"We hope to work with you on your forthcoming White Paper to show that strong local leadership and strengthened local governance can deliver better.”
The government wrote to councils in July 2021, setting out its ambition to make the city and urban style devolved decision-making powers and public funding currently enjoyed by larger cities and urban areas.