Businesses have voted firmly in favour of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough devolution deal following a meeting of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership Board this week (Tuesday, November 1).
In a unanimous decision the board voted in favour of the current proposals for devolution, making it the first organisation which would be part of a new combined authority to fully back the plans.
The devolution deal will create a new £20 million annual fund for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough for the next 30 years to support economic growth, development of local infrastructure and jobs.
An additional £70 million would also be made available for affordable housing in Cambridge, and £100 million for housing across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
Other funds and powers will also be devolved, as well as the promise that Peterborough will receive its own university.
However, there are concerns in Peterborough because the devolution deal would create a combined authority which would include representatives of councils from across the county, as well as the LEP.
The authority would be led by an elected mayor - which has proved highly controversial - and there are fears both of a loss of sovereignty for Peterborough City Council, and that Cambridge will benefit much more than Peterborough in any deal.
Mark Reeve, chairman of the LEP, said: “We have been working closely with businesses throughout the devolution process to ensure we get the right deal that will meet their needs and help us overcome key barriers to economic growth.
“After some robust negotiations with government earlier this year we have now got a new and greatly improved devolution deal that provides more money for housing and more powers that will not only be good for our local area, but for the region and UK plc as a whole.
“With a strong partnership between the public and private sector, we are well placed to take advantage of the opportunities that devolution brings both in this first deal, and future deals. We are therefore keen to press on with both round one of the deal, as well as future rounds, as soon as possible.”
The LEP will be a full voting member of the proposed new combined authority, enabling it to fully represent the views of businesses and work closely with the elected mayor.
Peterborough City Council is expected to vote on whether to accept devolution in a couple of weeks’ time.