North East devolution deal on hold as South Tyneside leaders say they need more time

The leaders of the North East's councils with chancellor George Osborne as they sign the devolution agreement last year.
The leaders of the North East's councils with chancellor George Osborne as they sign the devolution agreement last year.

The North East’s devolution deal is on hold after South Tyneside’s political leaders say they need more time.

The leaders of the seven councils which make up the North East Combined Authority (NECA) met yesterday to deliver their individual authority’s verdicts on the Government deal.

The Government says the new local government structure – which includes the election of a Mayor – will allow the region to have more independence and grant it extra powers.

The NECA has now decided to go back to the Government to seek clarification on a number of points after councillors in South Tyneside, Sunderland, Northumberland and North Tyneside councils said they wanted more assurances.

Durham Council has deferred its decision and Gateshead Council turned down the plans.

Newcastle City Council has backed the proposals.

Earlier in the day a meeting of South Tyneside Council’s cabinet at Jarrow Town Hall was held.

Leader Coun Iain Malcolm said more time was needed to consider the issue.

He said: “We will continue with negotiations, see where we proceed to, and aim to meet again in May.

“We will meet again once we have had discussions with Government ministers. I want to emphasise that it is important that we get the fiscal mechanics right.

“No one will forgive us if we find the elected mayor and the councils have responsibilities but do not have the financial clout to deliver what we need to deliver for the region.”

An extraordinary leadership board meeting is now set to take place on the week commencing May 9.