People on Wearside could find themselves voting for an elected mayor for the North East if plans to give the region greater powers go ahead.
The North East Combined Authority board has written to the government about beginning detailed negotiations on devolution. The move comes after the North East was omitted from plans to extend regional powers outlined by Chancellor George Osborne in his recent budget.
We will approach this process of negotiation with an open mind about where this takes us and are all firmly committed to seizing the opportunity that real devolution presents for our region.Coun Simon Henig
Chairman Coun Simon Henig said: “We want to explore the scope for a radical deal for the North East, with substantial devolution of powers and responsibilities.
“We will consider with Government the most appropriate governance structures, including an elected mayor, to oversee those new powers.
“We will approach this process of negotiation with an open mind about where this takes us and are all firmly committed to seizing the opportunity that real devolution presents for our region.”
A key aim for the combined authority is to increase the amount the region exports and help business take advantage of international opportunities.
Ross Smith, Director of Policy with the North East Chamber of Commerce:“The North East has a lot to gain from devolution so we are pleased progress is being made.
“All options must be on the table so that the best deal can be reached. What our members want now is for a meaningful settlement for the North East to be swiftly secured to allow the region to make an even greater contribution to UK Plc.”