England

Elected mayors for north-east of England as devolution deal announced

Tyne bridge
Image caption The North East Combined Authority will be given access to £30m a year over 30 years

The north-east of England and the Tees Valley are to each have an elected mayor to preside over regional issues, George Osborne has announced.

The deal, hailed as "historic" by the chancellor, gives regional figureheads power over policies such as transport, strategic planning and employment.

People will choose a directly-elected mayor in 2017, despite a no vote for a "Geordie Boris" in a 2004 referendum.

The deal is part of the government's Northern Powerhouse programme.

Northern Powerhouse Minister and Conservative MP for Stockton South, James Wharton, said by ending the "one size fits all" approach, people are given the power they need to boost jobs and skills in their area.

"We have listened to local people and are devolving significant resources and powers from the banks of the Thames back home to where they belong on the banks of the Tees.

"As a proud Teessider, I very much look forward to seeing how we use this deal to make our ambitions a reality."

The agreement means the Tees Valley Combined Authority will receive £15m a year over the next 30 years, with the North East Combined Authority given access to £30m a year over 30 years.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Tees Valley Combined Authority represents councils in Darlington, Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Stockton and Redcar

Nick Brown, Labour MP for Newcastle East, said: "The ballot paper in a future mayoral election should contain the option to vote 'no' to all of this. I would support a 'no' vote.

"The power to borrow more money and to tax ourselves more isn't what is needed to solve the problems that the region faces."

The North East Combined Authority represents Durham County Council, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland.

Meanwhile, the Tees Valley Combined Authority represents Darlington, Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Stockton and Redcar councils. All 12 are Labour-led.

Durham Labour councillor Simon Henig, chairman of the North East Combined Authority, said: "The agreement being signed today will bring significant economic benefits and opportunities for businesses and residents.

"Those living, working and doing business here in our region represent our greatest asset - and through this agreement we will invest in the people of the North East and support business to grow and thrive."

Image caption Mr Osborne signed the devolution deal alongside councillors in Gateshead

Redcar Labour MP Anna Turley, said the deal was "quite frankly, an insult".

She said: "More powers and funding to allow Teesside to drive forward the local economy is a good thing but this is drop in the ocean. The support we really needed was intervention to save the steel industry and the thousands of jobs and businesses dependent on it.

"On our steelworks and now devolution, Teesside has been given a raw deal."

Greater Manchester and Sheffield have already signed up to having a directly elected mayor.

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