Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A 'Super Mayor' Has to Be Will of North East Public

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A 'Super Mayor' Has to Be Will of North East Public

Article excerpt

Byline: Kate Proctor Local Government Reporter kate.proctor@ncjmedia.co.uk

THE PUBLIC should have the fi-nal say on whether the North East has a mayor, even if it means passing on more devolved powers, a council chief claims.

Durham County Council leader and chair of the North East Combined authority Simon Henig said he hopes other local politicians share his vision that the choice over a regional "super mayor" should be given to the electorate.

The Government has offered to give more control over spending to the North East, but only on the basis it follows Manchester's lead and introduces a regional leader.

Labour's Simon Henig said the combined authority was still seeking clarity on whether the mayoral model is an absolute must in order to receive more power from Whitehall and should be given an answer in a matter of weeks.

"If it's the case that a mayor is a pre-requisite then we need some kind of consultation of the wider region so that this isn't just a decision of leaders in the combined authority, but a decision of the region if this is something that we want or not," Coun Henig said. "It's very important that people have their say."

Newcastle as a city rejected the offer of a mayor just three years ago in the English mayoral referendum of 2012. The region also voted against gaining control of more power when a regional assembly was offered by the previous Labour Government in 2004.

However if the offer for 2015 is a regional elected mayor or nothing, then Coun Henig believes the decision should rest with local people even "if they say no."

"It shouldn't be down to the Simon Henigs or the other [council] leaders," he said.

"If people say no, are there any other models on the table or is it an elected mayor or nothing?" When asked if he would consider running for the position of mayor himself, he said "that's a question for a future stage. …

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