Friday 6 December 2013

City Deal - Cross Party Working At Its Best

The Chancellor's Autumn Statement yesterday included a commitment from Government to support a Greater Cambridge City Deal, including agreement to the principle of what we have called "gainshare".

The City Deal is an initiative that is aimed at unlocking the huge potential in the Greater Cambridge economy through investment in infrastructure. The gainshare part is an agreement that, as the economic growth starts to happen, Government will give us a small amount back from the increased tax receipts they benefit from in order to pay us back for delivering the improved infrastructure. There is still more work to do on this, the aim is to get the detail worked up before next year's budget.

I could write pages about the City Deal - and probably will at some point - but for now I will say that this deal has exciting potential for the whole of Cambridgeshire and beyond. But for now, there is an important point I want to make about the politics of getting to this stage in the deal. I know that members of the public hate the yah-boo nature of politics (which I am sometimes guilty of engaging in - albeit only when I feel I am forced). That "yah-boo" manifests itself in a couple of ways. One is through differing structures of Government pointing fingers at others i.e. districts blaming Counties and vice versa, or finger pointing between Local Government and National. The other is the cross-party stuff that I know I don't need to explain.

I hope the public will recognise that the City Deal is a welcome example of the exact opposite. It has come about through collaboration between a Liberal Democrat run City Council, a Conservative District Council and a County Council that is politically in no overall control (as well as The Greater Cambridgeshire Greater Peterborough LEP and Cambridge University). Getting to this point has also involved huge negotiations between local politicians of all colours and Ministers, with support from our MPs and between council officers and civil servants. It is a great example of cross party working and of partnership working.

It is surprising how much of this sort of work goes on, I suspect that even more of it will happen in the future, but this is certainly an example worth highlighting.

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