North of Tyne devolution: Next stage begins

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 ball is now rolling on the process of implementing the North of Tyne devolution deal after the three councils involved signed it off and launched a public consultation.

The ‘minded to approve’ deal for Northumberland, North Tyneside and Newcastle was announced last month and offers unprecedented new powers and funding to the area, including a £600million investment fund over 30 years. This investment and new powers are expected to generate £1.1billion for the local economy, create 10,000 new jobs and leverage more than £2.1billion in private-sector investment.

The decision-making cabinets of the three local authorities all met today or yesterday to agree to launch a consultation on the proposed changes which will see a split from the North East Combined Authority (NECA). Geoff Paul, from Northumberland County Council, explained that the deal is only minded to approve at this stage as there is this statutory process to go through.

In order for the three councils to accept and implement the deal, they must leave NECA, whose other members are Durham, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland; create a new mayoral combined authority for the North of Tyne area; and create a joint transport committee to oversee arrangements across the whole of the North East.

The councils will publish a scheme that sets out their proposals for changing the way the seven North East councils work together on economic development, regeneration and transport matters and for devolving new powers to the North of Tyne. Those plans include creating a new combined authority for the North of Tyne, led by an elected mayor, to manage a range of devolved powers.

Views will now be sought from the public on the proposed scheme and how the new governance arrangements will work.

Coun Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland County Council, said: "I hope everyone in Northumberland takes a few moments to share their views on this fantastic opportunity. This devolution deal presents us with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take local decisions about our future to provide more and better opportunities for everyone. Consultation is the next key stage in this process and the more people who get involved the better."

Norma Redfearn, Elected Mayor for North Tyneside, added: "This consultation provides our residents a chance to learn more about the opportunities devolution gives them and their families, and to understand what changes it will make to the way the councils will work together. This is the next step in our devolution journey and an important stage in getting devolved powers and funding to the North of Tyne. I'd like to personally invite everyone in North Tyneside to have their say."

The consultation will open on Thursday and close on Monday, February 5, 2018. Views can be given online at www.northoftynedevolution.com or at a series of consultation events in January. Details of the consultation events will be announced in the new year.