Pub­lic ‘strug­gling on de­vo­lu­tion plAns’

Con­sul­ta­tion shows mixed view on pro­pos­als for com­bined au­thor­ity

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - News - By Joel Lamy Twit­ter: @PTJoelLamy

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

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