By Daniel Hewitt, Political Correspondent
Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland will get a directly-elected mayor as part of a new devolution deal, ITV News understands.
Negotiations between the three North East authorities and the Department for Communities and Local Government is said to be 'going well'.
In September a devolution deal with seven local authorities collapsed after Gateshead, Sunderland, Durham and South Tyneside voted to postpone the previous proposal. The government later declared the deal was 'off the table'.
But the three other areas, who voted to press ahead with the previous deal - have got together and negotiations are now well underway with the government over forming their own separate deal.
I have been told that deal will include a directly elected-mayor to oversee the three local areas.
The deal is unlikely to be signed before the end of this year, and won't be in place for an election in May 2017, when other regions including the Tees Valley, Greater Manchester and Merseyside will hold mayoral elections.
The government's previous insistence on a directly-elected mayor was one of the main reasons for the collapse of the original North East devolution deal.
But it had been suggested that a mayor would not be a deal-breaker and the government appeared to be more relaxed about other leadership models.
We have now been told directly-elected mayors is 'government policy' in future devolution deals.