Parishes want a voice on the new combined authority

NALC's chief officer Stephen Rickitt
NALC's chief officer Stephen Rickitt

The body representing town and parish councils in Northumberland is calling for a seat at the table as part of the area’s £600million devolution deal.

The Northumberland Association of Local Councils (NALC) is calling for a parish-council representative to sit on the scrutiny committee of the Combined Authority that will be set up for the North of Tyne.

NALC’s chief officer Stephen Rickitt said: “We are basically supporting it as the only game in town, but we have asked for a seat for a parish-council representative on the overview and scrutiny committee that the new body will have.

“It’s going to be interesting to see what the response will be on that, but we have put that both as part of the consultation and also direct to the Secretary of State.

“North Tyneside’s got no parish councils, Newcastle’s just got a handful, but it’s about trying to say that in Northumberland, there’s a vast number of local authorities.

“I suspect that a lot of people involved may have worked in metropolitan areas and not come across parish councils and think we’re another sort of community group.

“We precept, we’re not capped at the moment and there’s powers and things we can do with you where you can do something extra in that community.”

Legislation to create the new authority for Northumberland, North Tyneside and Newcastle, was presented to Parliament before the summer recess.

If the process runs smoothly, this means a directly-elected mayor would be elected next year as planned.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service