Archive for April, 2016

My speech to @NorfolkCC on #Delolution

Develution Speech
Thank you Mr Chairman, it is clear that from the contributors to this debate thus far, devolution is quite rightly a major issue for elected councillors on whichever side of the argument they may be. 
Watching from afar the various meetings taking place in Ipswich, Cambridge, Bury St Edmunds and elsewhere has been for us political geeks somewhat of a soap opera, with excitement, disappointment, intrigue and confusion (not necessarily in that order!) Personally, a disappointing episode for me was the one where we were glued to our screens in wonder as to whether Cambridgeshire would join the Norfolk and Suffolk love triangle! I think it would have been helpful for the government (the producer) to be upfront about the expectations from the outset to give the actors a clearer direction and the public clarity about the overall aim. 
Whilst overidingly I support the proposals set out in front of us here today for reasons which I will come onto, a thought which derived from when I was trying to explain what devolution meant to one of my Parish Councils the other night, popped into my head; which maybe helpful in our discussions going forward popped into my head. Mr Joseph Bloggs, on a street in the county has Parish Councillors, a District or Borough Councillor, a County Councillor in this room, an MP, 7 MEPs, a Police and Crime Commissioner, and as it is proposed an elected Mayor all representing him! As a self confessed political geek, I’m not too sure that I can recall what powers they all do and do not have and how they relate to each other; nevermind explain it to Mr Bloggs. With the 2012 Police and Crime Commissoner election turnout in Norfolk being a mere 12%, how we engage the public needs to be a major part of the discussion going forward to a final decision in the latter part of this year.  
Saying that, an East Anglian Mayor has great potential and huge opportunities for the east; much of it will depend upon the passion and ambition of the post holder. I was rather offended last week when I saw an interview with Peter Dawe, the Cambridgeshire businessman who has thrown is hat into the ring when he suggested that he thought that elected councillors were parochial in looking after their own council’s interest. Well hopefully I speak on behalf of members across this chamber when I say to Mr Dawe that we are less interested in looking after our councils interests and more so the interests of our residents. With this in mind, I see huge potential under the devolution deal of greater social care and health care collaboration and dare I say it; amalgamation; which is in my opinion the ultimate conclusion we will need in order to get both prevention and care right for the projected demographic of Norfolk.
To conclude, I think that although as we sit here today the road seems long and has a few awkward bends (as is common across our county) I think the potential of what we could build at the end of the road is great, and therefore Mr Chairman, I urge fellow members to vote in favour of today’s recommendations.

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