North of Tyne devolution is outlined at civic society event

Northumberland County Council officer Geoff Paul made a return January visit to Berwick Civic Society.

Sunday, 21st January 2018, 06:41 am
Geoff Paul

His visit on this occasion was to outline progress on the North of Tyne develoution process.

He made clear what was being considered by devolution and that was the transfer of funding by the Westminster government to a combined authority for it to decide how economic levers be applied.

This stage has already been reached by some authorities such as Greater Manchester and Cambridge. Progress in the North East has been held up by the Governmental requirement for an elected mayor: acceptable to the three councils north of the Tyne, not so to the four south of the river.

That stumbling block led to the withdrawal of the Government offer.

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Negotiations with the Government are now being conducted by the three northern bodies. As now planned, the mayor will preside over a cabinet which will have two representatives from each of the three existing authorities, will appoint an ambassador for business, but have no casting vote or power of veto.

Mr Paul sees devolution offering considerable opportunity for the region.

It could lead to 10,000 new jobs with over £2 million of private investment and much increased output.

Growth areas are seen as being in digital fields, offshore, pharmaceuticals, financial services and tourism.

While the offered £20 million over a 30-year period is no great sum, it needed to be seen as part of a long-term,, on-going process with future deals possible. To maximise opportunity, efforts must be made to link skills more directly with employment prospects.

A consultation event is being held at the Northumberland Hall in Alnwick on January 23 from 4pm to 6pm.