North East councils stand by devolution bid on consultation closing day

Written by on 23rd March 2023

Leaders from North East councils have stood by their bid to secure more devolved power for the region on the closing day of a public consultation. 

Newcastle Civic Centre, HQ of Newcastle City Council | Image credit – Alamy

Under proposed plans, seven North East councils throughout Northumberland, Tyne & Wear and County Durham would be governed locally by a new combined authority and a directly elected mayor. 

However, there is no guarantee the plans would be shelved if the consultation finds an overwhelming lack of public confidence in changes to the current system. 

In a joint statement, the councils said: “Across the region we have been impressed by how engaged the public and businesses have been. 

“This is an enormous opportunity to have a significantly improved say on how money is spent and how decisions are made for the benefit of the two million people and thousands of businesses in our region.

“It is important to us that anyone who lives or works here is able to share their views.” 

When contacted by Spark, all seven councils didn’t comment on what would happen if the public didn’t back the plans in the consultation. 

The Government – which was part of the drafting of plans for further devolution for the North East – has already said it is “minded to” agree to the plans. 

For devolution to be ratified, Parliament would have to vote in favour of the changes. 

If the deal is agreed, the new authority would secure a £1.4billion investment fund over 30 years. The agreement would also mean the North of Tyne and North East combined authorities would no longer continue in their current form. 

In 2004, a binding referendum was held in the North East to create an elected regional assembly, but the idea was rejected by 77% of voters.

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