Fears mayor's 'pet projects' could eat up budget of new North of Tyne Combined Authority

The North of Tyne Combined Authority should stick to its original remit and focus on ‘added value’, Northumberland’s council leader has said.

Thursday, 27th June 2019, 4:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th June 2019, 7:27 pm
County Hall, Morpeth Picture by Jane Coltman

Coun Peter Jackson, who is one of the cabinet members for the authority, expressed his opposition to any expansion away from the stated aims of skills and job creation, and said it should avoid duplicating what his council already does.

“I’m quite concerned that the new authority doesn’t consume all of its money in its own running costs,” he added.

His comments came during a full meeting of Northumberland County Council on June 27 in response to a question from Coun Malcolm Robinson, who said he became ‘increasingly concerned’ during the election of the North of Tyne Mayor to read about the ‘likely costs of the candidates’ pet projects’.

He continued: “Having now seen the list of just some of the executive jobs offered by the new mayor and the salaries, as he builds up a staffing contingent from the top down, I’m wondering how much of the £20million per annum will be left for us to bid for to try to address some of those original stated aims for our county?”

Coun Jackson replied: “You echo some of the concerns that I had during the campaign, because quite a lot of the candidates’ comments did not seem to reflect what the aims of that new authority actually are, which is set down quite narrowly by statute.”

He added: “Running the new authority has been set out in the budget which has been publicly endorsed in the authority’s cabinet and there is a running cost of £1.9million, which is a significant amount but they’re hoping to do significant work.

“That money is not all being paid out of the £20million a year, there is about £1million a year mayoral capacity fund given by central government.

“We’re hoping to make sure the new authority is lean and efficient. I do think we all need to recognise that it’s an authority there to deliver specific projects and it should keep its overhead costs very low.”