A graphic promoting devolution in the North East

Cabinet agrees devolution findings

Plans for an historic devolution deal for the North East of England have moved a step closer after Northumberland County Council’s Cabinet agreed consultation findings should be submitted to Government. 
A region-wide eight-week consultation earlier this year asked residents, businesses and other stakeholders to give their views on the proposed scheme– the document that sets out how devolution would be implemented. 
Feedback saw respondents welcome the proposed increase in regional power, a greater profile for the North East, and closer working arrangements among key organisations. 
Speaking at the Council’s Cabinet, Leader Glen Sanderson said: “We would like to thank everyone who took part in our consultation, whether by attending one of our events or doing the survey online, for helping us to progress this historic opportunity. 
“What devolution will give us is greater sharing of expertise and greater friendship and cross council working, which always brings rewards in my experience. Of course it will also bring significant extra funding to the region. 
“This is an historic day for the County Council in moving this deal forward for residents, the council and the North East as a whole.” 
In total, the deal is expected to provide £4.2 billion of additional investment to the region over 30 years, including a £1.4bn investment fund alongside significant funding for transport, education and skills, housing and regeneration.  
The deal would involve the creation of a new mayoral combined authority covering County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland, and is projected to create 24,000 additional jobs in the area and unlock £5 billion additional private sector investment into the region. 
A total of 3,235 individuals and organisations from across the region took part in the consultation process. Participants were asked to consider five key areas around the proposals, and in all instances, the majority of respondents agreed with the plans. 
These were governance of the proposed North East Mayoral Combined Authority (61% agreed) as well as its plans around transport (67%), housing and planning (60%), finance and investment (53%), and skills, employment and adult education (65%). 
In addition to members of the public responding to the survey, a number of key organisations from around the region submitted responses lending their support to the deal. These included private businesses, voluntary and community sector organisations, trade unions, educational institutions, sports clubs and public sector bodies who welcomed the proposed investment and opportunities the deal could provide. 
The proposed deal was agreed with government in December 2022, and the £4.2bn investment package includes: 
  • An investment fund of £1.4bn, or £48m a year, to support inclusive economic growth and support our regeneration priorities 
  • An indicative budget of around £1.8bn, or £60m a year, for adult education and skills – to meet local skills priorities and improve opportunities for residents 
  • A £900m package of investment to transform our transport system, with £563m from the City Regional Sustainable Transport Fund, on top of funding already announced for our buses and metro system 
  • £69m of investment in housing and regeneration, unlocking sites to bring forward new housing and commercial development 
The formation of the new combined authority would not impact on any of the services delivered by the seven local authorities involved. However, the North of Tyne Combined Authority, covering Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland, and the North East Combined Authority covering County Durham, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland, would both cease to operate. 
The deal announced with government also includes scope for the region to enter into ‘trailblazer’ negotiations to enable the North East to play a leading role in further devolution of powers and investment in the future. 
Should all seven Cabinets agree to proceed with the plans, the findings will be presented to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to consider before laying an order in Parliament to establish the new combined authority. 
Subject to these steps, it is expected that an election to appoint a new mayor would take place in May 2024, at which point the new North East Mayoral Combined Authority would come into effect. 
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