Following the decision by Councils and the LEP in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough region to accept plans for Devolution, the ‘shadow combined authority’ - a precursor to a new combined authority which will be officially launched in February next year - met for the first time yesterday (Wednesday 14th December).
The short meeting sought to undertake some of the statutory tasks to get the organisation off the ground; including voting for a Chair and two vice chairs, and agreeing the scrutiny process.
Cambridgeshire County Councillor Steve Count, who was yesterday unanimously approved as the chair of the Shadow Combined Authority, said:
“I am both excited and incredibly humbled that all of the authority leaders have put their confidence in me to lead the organisation at this critical formative time.
“This meeting marks a real step change in the devolution process. It has taken us two years to get to this stage, but we are finally underway and moving forward to bring this plan to fruition. The devolution deal and the Combined Authority will change people’s lives for the better across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
“As of today we now have a Shadow Authority up and running and which will start to make decisions. We are expecting the first tranche of money to come from Government in March, so getting the Combined Authority off the ground means we’ll be a well-oiled machine as we move towards our official launch in February and by the time the Mayor is elected to join us in May.”
Paul Medd, chief executive of Fenland District Council and interim Chief Executive of the Shadow Combined Authority also spoke at the event, commenting:
“This is an opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come and the excellent work which has been done to date. It’s the only devolution deal in the East of England which has actually been achieved and we’re on track to start delivering real change to the people of our region, making local decisions for local people.”
Cllr Robin Howe from Huntingdonshire District Council and Cllr John Holdich from Peterborough City Council were voted in as vice chairmen of the Authority.
The ‘Shadow’ Combined Authority has been set up to drive forward the creation of the official Combined Authority for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough which includes a councillor from each of the local councils and a representative from the GCGP LEP. The organisation is also committed to working closely with colleagues from the Police, Health and Fire Services to ensure their interests are represented.
The creation of this body was an important part of the deal which was agreed by all seven involved Local Authorities, and which serves to ensure that democratically elected representatives of local communities are making decisions about how and where the money is spent.