Discussions over a second devolution deal for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are already underway as candidates to become the region’s mayor throw their names into the ring.
A second deal is set to be focused on infrastructure, tackling areas of multiple deprivation, and maximising the potential of the region’s market towns, according to Cambridgeshire CC’s leader Steve Count (Con).
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The themes have not yet been worked up in to detailed proposals, he said.
Cllr Count told LGC: “We haven’t approached the government yet. We’re building up a document… With the areas of multiple deprivation we’re going to approach it very much as a public health initiative but we’re just in the process of putting it all together.”
Leaders hope to start discussions with central government’s civil servants and ministers in January, said Cllr Count.
This comes ahead of the first meeting of the shadow combined authority in Peterborough on 14 December. At that meeting members will elect a chair. LGC understands Cllr Count is expected to get the role.
Meanwhile, a number of candidates to become the first elected mayor for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have emerged. Six out of the seven councils in the region are Conservative controlled meaning the Tory candidate will be the frontrunner to become mayor.
Heidi Allen, the Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire, has confirmed her candidacy. However, she has drawn criticism from local Tory councillors for proposing to combine the mayoral role with her current position.
Cllr Count, who was instrumental in securing the region’s devolution deal, has not yet ruled himself out of the race while local newspapers have speculated former health secretary Andrew Lansley, who was South Cambridgeshire MP until 2015, could stand as well as Conservative MEP for East of England Vicky Ford.
LGC understands Conservative candidates have until 16 December to submit their nominations.
Labour are not short of contenders either. Cambridge city’s deputy leader Kevin Price has put his name forward, along with Peterborough councillor Ed Murphy, and vice chair of Huntingdon constituency Labour party Samuel Sweek.
The Liberal Democrats are preparing to put forward a candidate and the party’s former Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has been named as a potential contender in the local press.
Meanwhile, local entrepreneur Peter Dawe has confirmed he is standing as an independent.
Whoever wins the mayoral election on 4 May will serve a four year term.
As mayor they will oversee the implementation of the region’s devolution deal which includes an investment fund worth up to £600m over 30 years and more control over skills and apprenticeship budgets.
One of the unique elements of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s devolution deal is a £70m pot of funding which has been ring-fenced for use to build about 500 new council homes in Cambridge city over five years. About £10m has been set aside to replace any of the homes which are subsequently sold through the right-to-buy scheme. A further £100m for affordable housing to be built across the region over five years is also included in the deal. The combined authority will be able to mix the type of tenures including affordable rented and low cost home ownership.