CALLS for the creation of a new Tyne and Wear local authority have received a mixed reaction on Wearside.
Senior Liberal Democrat peer Lord Shipley, who used to be leader of Newcastle City Council, has backed the idea of creating a new combined body from councils across the region.
This new authority would centralise certain functions currently carried out on both Wearside and Tyneside.
Lord Shipley said: “In the absence of a government office in the North East and a regional development agency, the North East needs to have a clear leadership which is outward facing and promoting the region.”
He added: “The North East needs a narrative. We need to develop a common purpose to work together.”
In response, Sunderland City Council said it would happily discuss the potential of the new body, but that there are lots of details that would need clarifying.
Council leader Paul Watson said: “The suggestion for a combined Tyne and Wear local authority is not a new idea.
“Indeed, the region has already had a single authority before.
“At the moment we work in close partnership with the five other Tyne and Wear local authorities, and Northumberland and Durham County Councils, on the North Eastern Local Enterprise Partnership.
“Sunderland City Council always strives to do what is best for the people of Sunderland.
“We would be happy to discuss the potential for a single Tyne and Wear local authority.
“But there needs to be a lot more detail in place before it would be possible to contemplate any new governance for the region.”
However, Coun Robert Oliver, leader of Sunderland Conservatives, feels the region would be better served with deals for each individual city.
He said: “Tyne and Wear does not exist as an identifiable entity and consists of competing areas all with their individual needs and priorities, unlike Greater Manchester, the distinct areas of which have more in common.
“A better bet would be individual city deals for Sunderland and Newcastle, allowing each the powers they need along with the resources to achieve them, with national and regional lobbying shared between councillors and MPs.”