EMMA LEWELL-BUCK: When it comes to devolution, it is only right that your voices are heard
I hope everyone had a peaceful Christmas and has a peaceful New Year. It’s been announced that a devolution deal for the North-East has been agreed between the Government and our local councils.
The proposed deal will unlock £4bn of funding, decision making powers over housing, transport, regeneration, adult education, and skills.
It will also see the election of a North-East mayor in 2024.
In 2016 I was part of the campaign that led the charge against the deal on offer.
It was a pitiful offer, limited in finances, limited in powers and was simply a devolution of Tory-led cuts.
It was right that the deal was ultimately rejected in South Tyneside; we deserved better than that.
The campaign in 2016 is what has led to the improved deal that we now have on the table. In recent Parliamentary Levelling Up Bill debates I stressed how, especially when it comes to the question of house building and planning, that my constituents are totally fed up with their voices being ignored and their views and wishes side-lined.
It is vital that as more powers and taxpayers’ money is devolved that new robust governance and accountability arrangements are put in place.
Regional disparities are growing under this Government.
The North-East has the highest rates of child poverty in the United Kingdom and the lowest healthy life expectancy, and our region has long suffered under-investment and policies that have damaged our economy.
This devolution deal could make a big difference to areas like South Shields.
Decision making and business, as usual, simply won’t cut it.
It is not enough to say that because more decisions are made locally then they will be made by and with local people.
Good politics happens when politicians are engaged in their communities, it doesn’t matter whether they are based down the road or miles away.
Crucially the deal will be put to the public for consultation in the New Year, please make sure you have your voice heard.
It is your home, it is your community and it is your lives that will be affected by this, it is only right that your voices are heard.