Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

David Taylor?gooby Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

David Taylor?gooby Columnist

Article excerpt

CONGRATULATIONS to Simon Henig on his election as Chair of the new North East Leadership Board, the body combining the local authorities of Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, and County Durham.

This body will work with the recently established North East Local Enterprise Partnership, which covers the same area.

This is important for two reasons.

One is that Durham is now taking a prominent position in the region, thanks to the leadership of Simon and his deputy, Alan Napier.

The other is that we seem to be developing some sort of regional authority. Is this a good or a bad thing? There is an obvious point though. It does not cover the whole North East. Tees Valley is different. They have a separate Local Enterprise Partnership for Cleveland and Darlington.

There used to be a regional development agency which covered the whole North East known as One North East. This was abolished by the government in 2012. I talked to a senior county councillor about what the difference was.

He replied that the regional development agency had more money, but was less accountable to the local authorities. The new LEPs will be more accountable, but have less money.

The other issue is should we resurrect the idea of an elected regional body for the North East? Most political people I speak to will say that we want more economic power for the region, particularly since Scotland is likely to gain more power, whatever happens in the independence referendum.

But they all say an elected assembly is a dead duck. That was thrown out in the referendum of 2004. People do not want more local politicians.

I campaigned back in 2004 for the regional assembly. It was a badly organised campaign, and never really engaged with local people.

I have reflected since. What I do know is that most people want to be able to get hold of their local council easily.

Many in Durham and Northumberland regret the loss of their district authorities. …

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