North Tyneside’s Elected Mayor, Norma Redfearn CBE, has been appointed as interim mayor of the North of Tyne Combined Authority.
She has been appointed by the authority’s cabinet to be its figurehead until May next year, when the first mayoral election is held for the North of Tyne area, made up of Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland.
A directly elected mayor will then take office with powers and responsibilities over economic growth, skills, housing policy and enhancing places and communities across the North of Tyne area.
The appointment of an interim mayor is required by central government and is in the legal order establishing the combined authority. Candidates who intend to run for elected mayor have until April 3, 2019, to declare.
Mayor Redfearn will combine the job with her current role and responsibilities as Elected Mayor of North Tyneside. The role of Interim Mayor does not receive any payment.
The appointment was made following a recommendation from the appointments panel which was established by the cabinet at its inaugural meeting on Thursday, November 8.
In accepting the role, Mayor Redfearn said: "This is an exciting time for anyone living and working in the North of Tyne area. As a long-time advocate for devolution in this part of the country, I feel we now have the tools we need to shape our own destiny, capitalise on our economic strengths and build an economy that delivers for everyone and leaves no community behind.
"Our vision sets out how we will make North of Tyne the home of ambition. It deals with issues that touch on every aspect of people’s lives and sets out our priorities for the future.
"To achieve these things, we must have transparency, openness and accountability, and we must ensure that all our people have the opportunity to get involved in making change happen and more importantly a share in the benefits.
"I am proud to be asked to oversee the authority during this interim period, as we work to lay the foundations for a bright new future."
The leaders of the other two constituent authorities welcomed the appointment.
Coun Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland County Council, said: "I'm delighted we’ve taken another key step as we move forward in progressing our priorities. Mayor Redfearn has a wealth of experience in local government and has been one of the key drivers in securing devolution for the North of Tyne.
"This appointment will mean we can now focus squarely on delivering a range of improvements and investment for the communities we serve with all three councils working in a positive spirit of cooperation."
Coun Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, added: "Norma is a perfect person to lead the combined authority into this new era. She is a tireless champion of our communities and always has the region's best interest at heart.
"Our task now is to get on with creating more and better jobs in our part of the north, and I know Norma as interim mayor will be a great asset to us in this mission."
Norma Redfearn was elected mayor of North Tyneside in 2013 and re-elected for a further four years in May 2017, becoming the first person to hold the position for two consecutive terms.
Born in Wallsend, she graduated with a BPhil from Newcastle University and enjoyed a 30-year career in teaching, in both primary and secondary education, including 14 years as a headteacher and four years in an advisory role. She received several prestigious awards during her time as a headteacher.
As a councillor, she held North Tyneside's Riverside ward from 2004 until her election as mayor and was cabinet member for children and young people between 2005 and 2009.
In the New Year's Honours list earlier this year, she was awarded a CBE for her commitment to public and community service in Tyneside.