Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

'We Will Be Left Behind If May Kills off Mayor' FEARS PM'S PLAN WILL HIT REGION HARDEST

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

'We Will Be Left Behind If May Kills off Mayor' FEARS PM'S PLAN WILL HIT REGION HARDEST

Article excerpt

Byline: KEIRAN SOUTHERN Reporter keiran.southern@trinitymirror.com @KeiranSouthern

FEARS have arisen that the North East could be left behind after reports Theresa May is ready to ditch plans for directly elected mayors.

Devolution of powers and funds was a key policy for former chancellor George Osborne as part of his aim to create a 'Northern Powerhouse'.

The plans involved handing over PS30m a year to the North East, as well as control over a PS3.4bn pot of cash.

Council bosses would also get new powers covering employment and skills, transport and planning and business activity - all intended to drive economic growth.

Any deal was dependent on the region adopting a directly elected mayor.

But it has been reported the prime minister is planning to ready to kill off the idea, leading to fears the North East's could lose out Nick Forbes, Newcastle City Council leader, said: "What we are seeing is a government in disarray over devolution, with the consequence being yet more delays to our job creation hopes.

"I and other council leaders will be holding face to face talks with the Secretary of State as we seek assurances.

"We are demanding to know whether the Government is still committed to the North East devolution deal as it stands and if not what funds and powers they are now prepared to put on the table.

"We have come so far along this road in our region that it would be an absolute disgrace for the Government to pull the plug now.

"We risk now a two-tier devolution process were the likes of Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and London have elected mayors fighting for growth while Newcastle and the North East are left behind."

Reports surfaced yesterday that Mrs May wanted to kill off the policy of regional mayors because she feared the Labour Party could use them to launch a comeback.

Newcastle's Liberal Democrats said that if the devolution process were to continue without a mayor there would be a "dangerous accountability gap". …

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