Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Door Remains Open' If Minds Are Changed on Devolution

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Door Remains Open' If Minds Are Changed on Devolution

Article excerpt

Byline: Laura Hill and Dan Holland Local Government reporters jnl.newsdesk@ncjmedia.co.uk

THE door will always be open for councils south of the river to join the North of Tyne devolution deal, North Tyneside Mayor Norma Redfearn has said.

Council cabinets in Newcastle and Northumberland, as well as North Tyneside, have this week approved moving ahead with devolution proposals But councillors in North Tyneside questioned why the four councils south of the river Tyne - South Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland and Durham - weren't joining.

The North of Tyne Combined Authority devolution deal, which includes an elected mayor, will bring PS600m to the area over the next 30 years and has been heralded as major economic boost set to bring 10,000 jobs to the region.

It was announced in November 2017, more than a year after the previous devolution deal which was to include all seven North East councils - Newcastle, Gateshead, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland and Durham - was scrapped.

At an extraordinary meeting of North Tyneside Council's cabinet on Monday, Ms Redfearn said: "I'm pleased to bring this forward. It has been a long time coming as far as I am concerned.

"This is the best thing for the people of North Tyneside and puts the people of North Tyneside first.

"This could bring 10,000 extra jobs, I can't understand why any trade union would be against it."

Coun Ray Glindon asked if any of the four councils south of the river Tyne would be able to join the deal if they wanted to.

Although Ms Redfearn said it would be too late at this stage of the deal, those councils could ask the Government to join at a later date.

Coun John Sterling added: "This is something I have thought should happen for a long, long time. I don't understand why the other four councils didn't see this as the way forward. There's money coming in."

Although Ms Redfearn said the North of Tyne councils had worked hard on a deal that wouldn't upset "friends south of the river" she hit out at the other authorities for not being democratic and doing what was best for the people living in the area.

Referring to Durham County Council's referendum on the previous devolution deal in early 2016, she said: "They spent PS200,000 on a referendum, the majority of people said they wanted devolution then they pulled out. …

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