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Anna Turley says ‘patience is wearing thin’ on Tees Valley devolution

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 08.55.46–          Redcar MP said the vision local authorities signed up to was not being honoured

–          Anna criticised the government for prioritising investment in wealthier areas

Labour MP for Redcar Anna Turley yesterday (15th March 2016) said Teesside local authorities were committed to devolution but the government’s current offer to the Tees Valley was ‘wholly insufficient’.

Anna was speaking in a debate in Parliament this morning on the draft Tees Valley Combined Authority Order 2016. 

She said:

“While we have always welcomed the principle of devolution in the Tees Valley, the current offer for the Tees Valley is wholly insufficient, at present, for our local authorities to be able to confirm their commitment for a Mayoral Combined Authority.

They entered into the deal, as we are sure the government did, in good faith.  They are still committed to delivering the deal, but not at any cost.  They and I do not believe that what is now on the table is consistent with the vision that was signed up to last October.

The most pressing issue of concern is the Single Capital Pot.  As you know, the Tees Valley devolution deal agreed in principle gave the Combined Authority “a flexible, multi-year settlement providing the freedom to deliver its growth priorities” and in addition to that an additional allocation of £15m per annum for 30 years.

Our local authorities were given commitments that they would be given details of the funding streams to be included after the Autumn Statement; this did not happen.  They were then promised the same by Christmas.  They then raised the issue of lack of progress on the single capital pot with the Minister for the Northern Powerhouse in January. Incredibly we still had no confirmation what will be included in the pot and when it will come to the Combined Authority.

A letter from CLG was received 4 March setting out that: “Initially, the Single Pot will be made up of three funding lines: the Investment Fund, the devolved transport grant, and the Local Growth Fund.  These will be joined by the Adult Education Budget in 2018/19.  These can be augmented with local revenue streams such as the future mayoral business rates supplement.”

This is completely unacceptable and not what was signed up for.  Two of the three funding streams: devolved transport grant and Local Growth Fund, are already devolved to us, and the third is the £15m p.a. we had already agreed in October.

In the Tees Valley you have five local authorities with long and successful track record of working together. They have a mature and robust partnership with the LEP which has a ten year track record of delivery and they are committed to making this devolution agenda work.

But the government is stretching their patience when it acts like this. And when you put it in the broader context of cutting £243m over ten years from the Tees Valley; the government’s abject failure to intervene to save SSI Jobs, the proposals to make public services totally dependent on locally raised funds when we have just lost over £10m per year from the closure of SSI; and when you continue to peddle the myth of the Northern Powerhouse whilst in reality investing to support more development and growth in Tory heartlands.

Our local authorities have tried to enter into this with a positive and constructive spirit. Their patience is wearing thin.”

By admin