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Devolution deal rolls on after consultation

Coun Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, Norma Redfearn, Elected Mayor for North Tyneside,  and Coun Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland County Council.
Coun Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, Norma Redfearn, Elected Mayor for North Tyneside, and Coun Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland County Council.

The next step has been taken in the process to implement the North of Tyne devolution deal on the back of a public consultation.

Receiving a summary of the feedback – from a survey and events across the region – at a recent meeting, Northumberland County Council’s decision-making cabinet agreed to submit a detailed report to the Secretary of State.

The county’s partner authorities, North Tyneside and Newcastle, have taken similar decisions.

Council leader Peter Jackson said: “It’s no secret I think it gives exciting possibilities to Northumberland in particular.

“There are set stages to go through before it becomes a reality and this is reporting back on one of those stages – the public consultation.

“I attended the meeting in the Northumberland Hall in Alnwick which was very well-attended by representative bodies as well as individuals. I’m happy to report back from that event that the vast majority of comments were positive.

“It does need underlining that the new powers come from central government; the three councils will continue to do what they do with very little, if any, change at all.”

Having mentioned the injection of £20million per year over 30 years, he added: “It’s not just about the investment fund, it’s about education and skills as much as anything.”

A majority of the other cabinet members were also pleased with the feedback, as well as being right behind the devolution deal itself.

But there was one naysayer following all the positivity from the Conservative members of the council’s leadership – Lib Dem group leader Jeff Reid.

He said: “If you add up the people who agree against the people who disagree and don’t have an opinion, it’s 50-50, it’s not a unanimous thing.”

He also raised fears about the county losing its say on regional transport matters compared to the current set-up.

But Coun Jackson said in response that Northumberland’s fully-devolved transport arrangements will continue and the deal will give it more sway in Transport for the North – which is going to be making the major decisions going forward.