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North East Combined Authority disappointed by government's decision to end devolution discussions

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed that plans for a devolution deal covering the North East are now off the table.

Speaking in response to the government's decision Cllr Paul Watson, chair of the North East Combined Authority says it is a "very disappointing" decision:

“It is very disappointing that the Government has chosen to end current discussions over North East devolution in this way.

Throughout this process, all of the seven council leaders in the North East have repeatedly and clearly stated their commitment to devolution and to creating a stronger regional economy.

And, although we were not able to reach a majority agreement to proceed to public consultation at this present time, we have reaffirmed our commitment to working together with the Government to achieve the right devolution deal for our region.

Leaders in the North East will continue to fight for our region, to build our economy and create jobs and investment.”

– Cllr Paul Watson, chair of the North East Combined Authority

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Tees Valley confirm their support for devolution

The Tees Valley Combined Authority have confirmed their support for regional mayors and devolution after their north east counterparts voted to reject the government's devolution deal.

Credit: PA

The Tees Valley Combined Authority is made up of five local authorities: Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton. They've voted to approve the government's devolution offer.

Yesterday the North East Combined Authority rejected the deal after a split vote between the seven councils which make up the body.

A spokesperson for Tees Valley Combined Authority said they would be pushing for further progress:

“The Order creating a Mayoral Combined Authority for the Tees Valley has been approved by parliament. A further consultation on the powers and governance arrangements was conducted over the summer, and the responses are now being compiled.

The Tees Valley councils have demonstrated over many years their commitment to a strong partnership for growth and jobs. We expect Ministers to deliver on their commitments to devolution and will continue to push for further progress.”

North East Devolution in doubt after councils split over plans to move forward

Members of the NECA meeting Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The North East's devolution deal is in doubt after a split vote between the seven councils which make up the North East Combined Authority.

Newcastle, Northumberland and North Tyneside all voted to move forward but Sunderland, Durham, South Tyneside, Gateshead voted against.

Paul Watson, chairman of the North East Combined Authority (NECA), said although the split was disappointing, the councils would work together towards a satisfactory outcome for the region.

Each of the seven councils which make up the North East Combined Authority has always made clear that they support the principle of devolution for the North East.

Following the outcome of the EU referendum and the subsequent changes within Government, council leaders have been equally clear that to move forward, the new Government must provide assurances regarding the terms of the region’s devolution deal.

Extensive discussions and negotiations have taken place with Government and within the region over recent months but unfortunately, despite our best efforts, it has not been possible to reach an agreement which all of the seven local authorities feel able to support.

Although this is disappointing we will continue to work together with Government to achieve our ambition of a stronger regional economy with improved opportunities for residents and businesses.”

– NECA chairman Paul Watson

Devolution would mean £30 million a year for the new devolved authority to spend - with powers over things like transport, skills and housing - and a mayor, due to be directly elected for the first time in May 2017.

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “It is disappointing that some North East councils have been unwilling to support this deal, which would certainly have benefitted local people. “If councils in the region wish to discuss devolution proposals further, our door remains open.”

Gateshead Council delays decision on backing North East mayor

Gateshead delays decision on re-joining devolution process Credit: PA

Gateshead Council has delayed a decision on re-joining the process to bring an elected mayor to the North East. The authority had been expected to give the go ahead to join six other local authorities working on plans for devolved powers from Westminster.

The authority says it wants to wait until it knows the outcome of a meeting later on Tuesday of the North East Combined Authority. The authority is due to report on the detail of recent talks with the government on the process.

Gateshead Council's decision is now expected to be made on Friday.

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