Public ‘struggling on devolution plAns’
Consultation shows mixed view on proposals for combined authority
The public may not have understood the “complex” issue of devolution when taking part in a phone poll, it has been claimed. NickSandford, Liberal DemocratmemberonPeterborough City Council, says proposals for a combinedauthority with an elected mayor could have beendifficultfor people to get their heads around.
Cllr Sandford’s comments come after a majority of the 2,280 people who took part in anIpsos MORItelephonesurvey supported both the combined authority and elected mayor. However, more than half the people who voted on an online consultation were against both concepts, with nearly 60 per cent opposed to the elected mayor.
Cllr Sandfordsaid:“Theresults are curious. It’s not just a marginal difference between telephone and online, there’s a massive difference.
“People were phoned up outoftheblueandmaybethey did not understand what an elected mayor is. Maybe they thought it’s like our current mayor. It’s quite a complex issue and I’m not convinced phoning people up out of the blue youget informed results.
“There is concern about how much power Peterborough has in a combined authority whichmembersofthe public wouldnotbeawareof.”
Council leader Cllr John Holdich hit back, saying: “That’s an abuse of Peterboroughpeopletosaytheyarenot intelligent enough to understand.”
Cllr Holdich also claimed the telephone poll was more reliable than the online survey because “it covers moreof the population.” In the Ipsos MORI poll, 37 per cent of people knewnothingorhadnever heard of devolution.
Thecity council will vote at the end of October on whether to be part of the new combined authority which would be given hundreds of millions of pounds from the Government to support economic growth and housing.
Peterborough would also beawardeditsownuniversity.
Liberal Party member Cllr Keith Sharpalsocriticised the consultation. Hesaid:“I donot think people understood the full facts. There should have been five to six meetings with people to put the case for both sides of the argument.
“Anything that gives us more money is good, but this is just jobs for the boys which is ridiculous.”
Cllr Nick Sandford