Tees Valley residents could find themselves voting for an elected mayor if talks on devolving more power to the region succeed.
Hartlepool Borough Council leader Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher and the leaders of Darlington, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton councils have issued a joint statement with Mayor of Middlesbrough David Budd and Northern Powerhouse Minister James Wharton on the latest power-sharing discussions.
It is a prize worth having for the Tees Valley. It is the reason we must put ourselves at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse.
“There are great towns and cities across the North of England, but for years our economic growth has lagged behind that of the South,” it says.
“If we corrected that imbalance across the North it would generate additional growth of £44billion by 2030.
“That is an extra £1,600 for everyone who lives here.
“It is a prize worth having for the Tees Valley. It is the reason we must put ourselves at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse.
“This is not a free ticket to future prosperity. We know it will require hard work and continuing strong local leadership.
“We have secured a City Deal and our combined authority proposal is nearly there. But we can still do more.
“That will require using new powers to make our own decisions and tackle local problems.
“We have the opportunity to determine our own destiny, and it is a chance we must seize.
“A deal would depend on an elected mayor working with local leaders to oversee new powers devolved from ministers.
“We are confident the Tees Valley will rise to the challenge, and reap the rewards for decades to come.”