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29.09.16

North east devolution back on the table as trio of councils seek new deal

Devolution in the north east could be restarted as Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland councils seek their own deal.

Sajid Javid, the communities and local government secretary, withdrew the £900m devolution deal after four of the North East Combined Authority member councils - Sunderland, Durham, South Tyneside and Gateshead – voted against it.

But Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland, which backed the plans, are now considering negotiating their own devolution deal with the DCLG.

A spokesperson for Newcastle City Council told PSE: “The three North of Tyne authorities are clear in their commitment to devolution of powers and funding to the north east and have begun to consider what could be achieved for our region through working together.”

PSE was told that while formal discussions have not started, they will be seeking to explore with government what may be possible in the fullness of time.

It has been reported that an announcement could be made in the chancellor’s Autumn Statement, which could include a transport a transport initiative between the three local authorities.

In a statement released on behalf of Cllr Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland city council, he said: “Our administration is determined to deliver to residents the many benefits that will come from key projects such as the Ashington-Blyth-Tyne passenger rail line and a commitment to achieving 100 per cent 4G and 5G phone coverage plus investment that will bring universal rural broadband.

“So clearly we will favour discussions that result in more funding and local decision-making for the region."

When contacted, the DCLG said the government is committed to supporting growth up and down the country.

“We will continue to work closely with local areas and remain open to discussion on any devolution proposals that include strong, accountable governance and clear accountability,” they added.

(Image c. Glenn Bowman)

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