The Government’s Northern Powerhouse project gained a significant boost yesterday when Chancellor George Osborne met council leaders to sign a devolution deal worth almost a £1billion over the next 30 years.
The leaders of the seven local authorities included in the North East Combined Authority (NECA) – including South Tyneside Council’s Iain Malcolm – were present at the historic signing at Newcastle College’s Rail Academy in Gateshead.
The agreement, which devolves significant powers, funding and responsibilities to the region, also means the electorate will go to the polls in 2017 to choose the first directly-elected mayor for the whole of the North East.
The move will represent a major change to the way in which decisions will be made in the future about transport, investment, funding, skills training, business support, housing and strategic planning.
NECA chairman, Durham County Council leader Simon Henig, said: “This is an important day for the North East. The agreement being signed today will bring significant economic benefits and opportunities for businesses and residents.
Chancellor George Osborne said: “This announcement shows that our revolutionary plans for devolution are gathering an unstoppable momentum.
“The civic leaders of the North East have worked incredibly hard to reach this point and as a result today we are signing this historic agreement which will give the area significant new powers and investment.
“Once again the Northern Powerhouse is leading the way in our ambition to take power out of London and give it to the people who know their areas best.”
Alison Thain, North East chairman of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said “Size of ambition is a major part of the Northern Powerhouse, and the NECA Deal shows a commitment from leaders to drive forward the north east economy, positioning the region as a crucial part of the Northern Powerhouse.”