Historic North of Tyne devolution deal reaches its final stage

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 Prime Minister will today announce the final stage in the process to conclude a historic devolution deal for the region.

During a visit to the North East, Theresa May will announce that the Government will lay legislation in Parliament to formally conclude the deal and transfer new powers from central Government to a new North of Tyne Combined Authority, unlocking a £600million investment fund for the region.

The deal is expected to generate £1.1billion for the local economy, create 10,000 new jobs, and leverage £1.2billion in private sector investment.

The three North of Tyne councils – Newcastle, North Tyneside, and Northumberland – expect to set up the new authority in October and will appoint an interim mayor ahead of a mayoral election in summer 2019.

Once established, the new authority will have the power to make key strategic decisions for the region – decisions traditionally made in London – that reflect local people’s needs and priorities.

It is hoped that benefits to the region will include more and better paid jobs, more affordable homes, faster economic growth and better connected communities, as well as opportunities created via a £23million adult education budget.

Peter Jackson, leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “This is a significant step and means we are now just months away from launching the new authority, with all the benefits that brings.

“So much work has gone into securing the best deal for the North of Tyne and this is yet another milestone towards this once in a generation opportunity.”

North Tyneside’s Elected Mayor, Norma Redfearn, said: “I think we are at a stage in this process now where we can start to feel genuinely excited about what lies ahead. This deal has been a long time coming and hopefully this final stage of the process will go smoothly so we can get down to business and deliver an exciting new future for people across our region.”

Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “I and other leaders are looking forward to getting on with our job creation plans once this devolution deal clears the parliamentary process.

“Our region needs more and better jobs and we have ambitious plans to take back control of decision making and let people here determine how we should invest in the North East.

“But this is just the first step in our devolution journey and, while I welcome today’s news, myself and other leaders are ambitious for far greater devolution out of Whitehall and back to the north.”

In September 2016, a deal for the North East Combined Authority (NECA) fell through. Since then, the three North of Tyne authorities have continued to pursue the devolution of powers and funding to the North East.

In November 2017, the North of Tyne partners agreed a ‘minded to approve’ deal with central Government worth £600million over 30 years.

In January 2018, a region-wide consultation found a broad level of support for the proposals.

In April, the leaders of the North East Combined Authority (NECA) voted to amend its geographical boundaries and allow the creation of the North of Tyne Combined Authority.

Once established, the authority will operate under the leadership of a new, directly-elected Mayor for North of Tyne who will give a strong and powerful voice to the area. They will chair a cabinet made up of six representatives from the three councils, plus representatives from the North East Local Economic Partnership (NELEP) and the business community.

The North of Tyne area covers 5,200 sq km and has a population of more than 810,000. It has 23,000 businesses employing over 400,000 people. Some 85 per cent of North of Tyne residents who work do so in the North of Tyne area.