A so-called super-council for the North East is to become a reality after concerns by South Tyneside Council chief Iain Malcolm that it could be merely a “talking shop” were allayed.
Agreement over the creation of a combined local authority has been rubber-stamped on the basis that the seven councils making it up will be able to achieve more working together than separately.
The move means Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland’s councils will join forces to deal with issues such as transport and job creation.
Decisions over those matters will be put in the hands of the authorities’ seven leaders.
Coun Malcolm said he was delighted at the agreement and predicted that the move would “deliver important projects to the North East”.
Talks over the super-council’s creation had been put on hold while clarification was sought about what powers it would have.
At the time, Coun Malcolm said he wanted to see a combined authority “with clear remits and targets, not a regional talking shop”.
Now, those concerns appear to have been addressed to his satisfaction.
Coun Malcolm said: “I am delighted that final agreement has been reached by all seven councils – in particular, their commitment to work towards a single transport authority for the North East.
“This is an exciting time for the region, and I am confident that working together on key regional projects, we will be able to deliver some important projects for the region.”
Reacting to the news that the councils had reached agreement, James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce, said: “Our local authority leaders must be applauded for resolving the issues that had threatened to derail plans for a combined authority to oversee strategic issues including transport, skills, inward investment and planning.
“By backing the plans for the combined authority, the councils have taken the first step towards putting the North East Local Enterprise Partnership area on an even footing with the likes of Greater Manchester, which is already benefiting, and several other English city regions that are planning to do the same.
“With the right structures in place, this area can maximise its significant competitive advantages and continue to set the pace nationally for economic growth, as it has done over the past few years.”