Durham County Council’s Cabinet has agreed to move to the next stage of the devolution process – to create a mayoral combined authority for the North East – at a meeting this morning (May 11).
The decision is subject to a number of conditions, including that County Durham is not left worse off by the Government’s proposals on transport and highways funding; that conditions are met in relation to mayoral powers and governance; and the commitment that ongoing discussions with Government will deliver fair funding.
In March Cabinet members deferred their decision in relation to the devolution proposals so that further clarification and commitment could be sought from Government in relation to a number of outstanding issues.
A report to Cabinet sets out the progress made in addressing the outstanding issues raised in March as well as the potential consequences of agreeing or not agreeing to be part of a mayoral combined authority area.
Cllr Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council, said: “We acknowledge that a great deal of progress has been made in the negotiations with the Government since March.
“As a result we are now in a position to move ahead to the next stage of the process, which will be the creation of a mayoral combined authority.
“We believe that devolution offers real opportunities to the North East – and nearly 60 per cent of people in County Durham who responded to our household poll agreed that it could benefit the region.
“However, there is still some progress to be made and we remain focused on ensuring thatthe conditions which form part of the agreement are met.”
If the devolution proposals are agreed, the North East Combined Authority with a Cabinet made up of local authority leaders and an elected mayor, will be responsible for making key decisions regarding the economy, investment, transport, housing, skills training,business support and strategic planning.
A final decision on whether to agree to the creation of a mayoral combined authority will not be made until all necessary council Cabinets have met, along with the Leadership Board of the North East Combined Authority, which meets on Tuesday 17 May.