Devolution / Combined Authority
The Tees Valley Leaders and Mayor have welcomed a devolution deal put on the table by the Government, which would see millions of pounds of additional funding head to the region.
It follows weeks of negotiation between the Government and the five local authorities to bring about a firm deal.
The deal itself is worth £450million over 30 years, equivalent to an additional £15million per year, and provides for the transfer of significant powers for employment and skills, transport, planning and investment from central government to the Tees Valley.
A new investment fund would be created to deliver a programme of investment in the region over the 30 year period, which would include a devolved and consolidated transport budget.
The deal also includes a comprehensive review and redesign of the education, skills and employment support system.
The Tees Valley would introduce a directly elected city region Mayor who would work alongside the leaders of the five local authorities to provide leadership and be directly accountable to the electorate.
The Tees Valley Leaders and Mayor have committed in principle to the deal, but it is subject to formal consent by each council. Meetings will take place shortly.
Chair of the Shadow Combined Authority and Leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council Sue Jeffrey said: "I'm pleased that the Government has put a devolution deal on the table and if it is agreed by all the Tees Valley councils, there is no doubt it will enable us to do more locally to strengthen our economy and secure a more sustainable future for the Tees Valley. Over the coming months we will be speaking to local residents and businesses about what the proposals mean for them. But we must not lose sight of the fact that while this is good news, there is still an immediate need to focus on actions to help the shock to our borough and our people which has been caused by the current crisis at SSI."
Councillor Bill Dixon, Leader of Darlington Borough Council said "This marks a significant step in a process which in time will bring key decision making powers and budgetary control to the Tees Valley. I am particularly pleased to see the commitment from Government to strategic transport improvement which will benefit the Tees Valley."
Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, Leader of Hartlepool Council, said: "Devolution gives us a tremendous opportunity over the coming years to negotiate substantial funds from central Government above and beyond what we would normally receive. It will also enable us to accelerate the growth of our local economy, safeguarding existing jobs and creating many new ones, and it places Hartlepool in prime position to secure a replacement for its existing power station which alone generates £40m a year for the local economy."
Middlesbrough Mayor Dave Budd said: "The Tees Valley authorities have a long tradition of working closely together in the best interests for the area as a whole, and we share a collective understanding of what is needed to support and improve our economy and communities.
"We therefore welcome this opportunity for Whitehall resources to be devolved to the area and for local people to make the decisions on how and where they are spent.
"It will give us a much greater say in our own destiny, and strengthen our ability to compete on equal terms with other city regions both at home and abroad."
Leader of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, Councillor Bob Cook, said: "The Tees Valley local authorities already work effectively together and with a devolution deal we can do even more to help deliver our key priority of economic growth. If this deal is formally agreed by all of the Tees Valley councils we will be in a stronger position to attract investment, support business development and in doing so create more employment opportunities."
Paul Booth, chair of Tees Valley Unlimited, the Local Enterprise Partnership for Tees Valley, said: "This places Tees Valley at the vanguard of devolution and gives the area greater powers, greater freedoms and greater resources.
"The plans also would augment the area's ability to optimise its economic assets, embrace new and emerging technologies and make sure that future generations of workers have skills and knowledge relevant to employers."