North East trio to go it alone on devolution deal

Northumberland County Council chief executive Steven Mason
Northumberland County Council chief executive Steven Mason

The prospect of a devolution deal for the three councils north of the Tyne is rising after the Government agreed to start formal discussions.

Northumberland, Newcastle and North Tyneside are looking to go it alone following the collapse of the wider North East deal.

Last May, six of the region’s councils, but not Gateshead, confirmed their support for the proposed devolution agreement, which would have led to a mayor being elected, greater powers and significant investment. It was signed off by the leaders of Northumberland, Newcastle, Durham, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and Sunderland councils.

But then, in September, Sunderland, Durham and South Tyneside joined Gateshead to vote against the next step, which would have seen the deal go out for public consultation. This led Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid to announce that the deal was off the table.

Since that deal fell apart, the three supportive councils have been holding exploratory discussions with the Government.

Yesterday, Steven Mason, chief executive of Northumberland County Council, said: “The Government has confirmed that it wishes to engage formally with Northumberland, North Tyneside and Newcastle councils to secure a devolution deal.

“The other two chief executives and I have agreed that there is a need to put in place capacity to undertake the detailed and complex work required over the coming months and we are now starting this process.”