‘Super council’ plans on hold for clarification on powers

DON'T RUSH DECISION ... Coun Iain Malcolm.
DON'T RUSH DECISION ... Coun Iain Malcolm.

A TOWN Hall boss still supports the creation of a North East ‘super council’ – just as long as it isn’t a “regional talking shop”.

South Tyneside Council leader Iain Malcolm has spoken out after plans for a combined authority were put on hold.

It comes after his Sunderland counterpart, Paul Watson, said he could not agree to the plans until it was clear what powers the proposed ‘super-council’ will have.

He wrote to the Government and asked for a delay in plans to join together the councils – Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland. The move would see the authorities share functions, while also remaining individual, and could see a leadership set up with the power to invest in jobs.

A similar council was launched in Greater Manchester in 2011, which was given the power to decide how more than £1bn of investment would be spent.

As part of a consultation over the creation of the new authority, South Tyneside Council expressed “some concern” over the exact powers it would have.

And Coun Malcolm said it was important that no decision was rushed into.

He added: “South Tyneside Council remains committed to the need for a combined authority.

“Our submission to the consultation made clear that we wanted to see strong regional leadership with even stronger remits on transport, skills and economic development than that proposed by five other councils.

“I am ambitious for our region and I want to see a combined authority with clear remits and targets, not a regional talking shop.

“Sunderland City Council have expressed some concern about the public consultation, the costs and the exact powers the combined authority will have.

“I have no issue with any council raising such issues and wanting clarification given that once the combined authority receives Parliamentary Approval, the seven North East Councils will be ‘locked into’ the arrangement.

“If time is needed to satisfy the concerns of Sunderland and to act upon South Tyneside’s ambitious response, then I am comfortable with that.

“I would not wish this decision to be rushed.”

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