Peterborough, Norfolk and Suffolk ‘super council’ talks expected soon

Peterborough City Council news from the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk, @peterboroughtel on Twitter, Facebook.com/peterboroughtoday
Peterborough City Council news from the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk, @peterboroughtel on Twitter, Facebook.com/peterboroughtoday

Talks over a new ‘super council’ encompassing Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk are expected to begin soon.

The leader of Peterborough City Council, Councillor John Holdich, is confident that formal discussions will take place between councils in the three regions to try and agree a devolution deal with the government.

But he insists that any new arrangement will not damage local democracy or see Peterborough end up “becoming a parish council” with limited powers.

Cllr Holdich said: “We have to sit down with the others and decide what we get out of it. When the advantages have been worked up I will come back to the city council and see if they want to proceed.

“But there is no meat on the bone yet.”

The council has been a unitary authority since breaking away from Cambridgeshire County Council in 1998, allowing it to make its own decisions on all aspects of policy.

But a workshop next month will discuss whether the two councils can be joined up again in a single authority, with talks to take place alongside health chiefs and the emergency services.

Cllr Holdich said: “We are in the early stages of these discussions and I have been clear that, although Peterborough City Council is happy to be part of these, no commitment is being made.”

He added: “If I get the government’s mood right then Cambridgeshire as a devolution package will not work. It needs a bigger area. And I do not see a huge advantage going with Cambridgeshire.”

The city council’s chief executive Gillian Beasley recently agreed to do the same job at the county council for a year.

When the job share was agreed Cllr Holdich said it did not mean Peterborough would rejoin the county council.

Benefits of being part of a larger authority, according to the council leader, would come from joined transport, health and housing policies.

Cllr Holdich is also discussing an economic collaboration for the city council with South Holland, South Kesteven, Fenland and Rutland councils.