Metro extension and A19 upgrades on the table as part of £3 billion North East devolution deal
A devolution deal to reunite councils on opposite sides of the Tyne and elect a new North East mayor will be worth more than £3 billion.
Fresh details have emerged of new funding and powers up for grabs if regional local leaders and ministers can finally reach agreement.
A document seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service confirms the proposed deal would deliver more than £3 billion over 30 years and 17,000 jobs.
Negotiations have been taking place for months over powers for a regional mayor elected to govern a new combined authority covering Gateshead, Sunderland, South Tyneside, Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland.
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A previous bid for North East devolution partially collapsed in 2016 amid a political split which saw Newcastle, North Tyneside, and Northumberland break away from NECA to form their own North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA), with Labour’s Jamie Driscoll mayor.
But a package to mend the divide and hold a mayoral election in May 2024 is edging closer.
A presentation by local authority chief executives to councillors, a copy of which has been seen by the LDRS, reveals the draft deal is now “stable enough” to discuss with council leaders and “stands up to the tests and major red lines” set before the negotiations began.
The new settlement would include the “full suite of powers” already available to mayors in other parts of England that boast more substantial devolution deals.
That would include the ability to bring bus services back into public control and set ticket fares, a £900 million transport funding package up to 2027 and the establishment of mayoral development corporations.
It is hoped the deal will see:
*17,516 jobs created
*2,627 homes built
*”Major steps” towards the North East’s net zero emissions target
*Pave the way for private sector investment worth £3.7 billion
It could also set up a clash between Driscoll and Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Kim McGuinness for the Labour nomination for the top job,if, as has been suggested, the mayor’s role was merged with the PCC’s.
The presentation also promises “strong collaboration” with Durham and “appropriate checks to protect the ‘sovereignty’ of each constituent authority”.
Other commitments could include capacity upgrades for the A19 and on the East Coast Main Line, as well as a “recognition” the government would have to offer more funding for major rail projects, such as extending the Tyne and Wear Metro and reopening the Leamside Line.
If local council leaders agree privately to the deal, it would be subject to a public consultation and a full council vote in each area.
After that, a Parliamentary order would be required to formally establish the new body.
A NTCA spokesman said: “We have collectively set out our expectations for Government to match our ambition to make a difference for our residents, communities and economy and where each Local Authority, Combined Authority and all stakeholders can see clear benefit for their place.
“We are seeking a proposal from Government which contributes to the recovery of the region following the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We expect discussions will continue to take place but at this stage, nothing has been agreed.”