Support for devolution welcomed by council leader

Coun Grant Davey.
Coun Grant Davey.

More jobs, more money and more local decision-making are all heading to the North East after a Minister’s backing for regional devolution was welcomed by a council boss.

Reports had claimed new Prime Minister Theresa May was ready to derail an agreed £3.4billion pot for the region, plus Whitehall handing over more powers to North East decision-makers, including a directly-elected mayor for the area.

Now Coun Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council, has said clear support for regional devolution by Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Local Government, means it is ‘full steam ahead’. Coun Davey is urging full consultation on the deal by interested authorities.

Local authority chiefs met Mr Javid in London to discuss the way forward and he was said to be ‘very clear’ that the Government is committed to devolution, with an elected mayor an essential part of the package of control over key sectors such as training, economic growth and transport.

The county council had persuaded Whitehall chiefs to include clear support for the long-awaited Ashington-Blyth-Tyne rail line built into future funding packages.

“This official backing could allow the North East to build on its own success and it’s welcome news that the Government will abide by the deal originally signed. This is great news and fully supported by the council on behalf of all residents,” said Coun Davey.

“It is also another example of how the current county administration is always prepared to work positively with all political bodies and business groups that have the best interests of Northumberland at heart.

“The time for talking about devolution is over – it is time for us all to roll up our sleeves and make this great county even better, with the many benefits that increased local decision-making will bring,” he added.

Coun Davey said that a stronger Northumberland is central to economic success and better lifestyles north of the Tyne - and the whole North East has a vital role to play in the UK’s growth.