Leaders signing the deal
Leaders signing the deal
Jamie Hardesty

North of the Tyne devolution deal: Overview and reaction

What a week. We’ve now got devolution in the North East ladies and gentlemen; well, to some extent that is.

When Sajid Javid revealed the collapse of the £900m North East devolution deal in September last year, large quarters of the North East business community despaired.

With four authorities rejecting proposals, the region would again remain on the outside of funding pots crucial to unlocking job creation, productivity and potential.

However, as announced in the Chancellor’s Budget on wednesday, a North of the Tyne (North Tyneside, Northumberland and Newcastle) devolution deal will go ahead.

The deal was officially signed this morning (24 November) at Newcastle Science Central, where the Mayor of North Tyneside, Norma Redfearn, Leader of Northumberland County Council, Cllr Peter Jackson and the Leader of Newcastle City Council, Cllr Nick Forbes, joined Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry and Treasury Minister Andrew Jones.

But what does this really mean and how will it change the region as we know it, in the years to come?

We take a look at the details of the deal and what’s being said about it all so far.

What do I need to know about this deal in particular?

The Chancellor initially told us that the deal will generate ‘huge rewards’ for the North of the Tyne area, boosting the local economy by £1.1bn, creating 10,000 new jobs and attracting £2.1bn in private investment.

Moreover, those living North of the Tyne will benefit from £600m of new government investment over the next 30 years to spend on local priorities.

That being said, the government and those involved have released reassuring comments to the wider North East community too.

For instance, today at the signing, NELEP Chair Andrew Hodgson told the audience that, in actuality, 25% of jobs in the deal will actually be created South of Tyne.

The deal will devolve powers to a newly-established body, the North of Tyne Mayoral Combined Authority (NTCA), which will be responsible for delivering the growth plans for the region and supporting the North East LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan.

As well as job growth and private sector investment, the deal is also expected to help realise longstanding ambitions from city centre redevelopment to grand plans of propelling the area as as a UK hotspot in the big data revolution.

However, the deal is coming under-fire in some quarters as being insufficient when considering the cuts faced by the region during austerity.

What are the leaders involved saying about it all?

Northern Powerhouse Minister, Jake Berry

“This ground-breaking, multi-million pound deal – sitting alongside the Metro funding boost – truly passes power to the people, and is a pivotal moment for the Northern Powerhouse.

With a strong voice in a new mayor, a new Wear crossing and the globally-significant Great Exhibition of the North, this is a new golden era creating jobs, growth and prosperity for the resurgent North East.“

Councillor Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council, said:

“The devolution deal we have negotiated is our region’s next step towards creating a North East economy with above average wages and below average unemployment.

We now have a real opportunity for our region to come together and turn our ambition for more and better jobs into reality.

Newcastle is already home to national centres of excellence, and this deal builds on our strengths as we look to confirm our place at the heart of modern Britain.“

Norma Redfearn, Elected Mayor for North Tyneside

“This is a very exciting deal that will help us to develop our economy and give us access to a wide range of new opportunities. I am extremely proud of North Tyneside and am confident this deal will allow us to build on the strengths of our people and businesses.

It provides people with the chance to retrain, gain new skills and secure jobs at all levels in growing economies in our area. We will be able to invest in our infrastructure to support existing businesses and attract new ones, and make the North of Tyne an even better place to live.

It’s vital that the North of Tyne has a strong voice as the country makes important decisions about its future. This deal gives us a seat at the table with other mayors, where we can fight for the needs of our residents.“

How does the North East business community feel?

Ross Smith, director of policy, North East England Chamber of Commerce

“Along with other business organisations in the North East we’ve consistently advocated devolution over the last two years. It’s great to see this deal going ahead which will mean the North of Tyne area has flexibility to tailor policy and investment decisions to local economic conditions, instead of them being made in Whitehall.

We’re already seeing the success of devolution in Tees Valley so it’s great that this can be reflected in the North of the region too. In due course we want to see all parts of the region covered by devolution deals but from the outset this will be a big step forward in helping deliver our ambitions for growth.“

Christian Cerisola, Head of W North

“This seems to have developed at breakneck speed and relatively under the radar. Fairplay to everyone at the new NTCA for mobilising quickly, quietly and efficiently in reopening the doors with Central Government. The embarrassing and proverbial two fingers to the NECA from Sajid Javid last year suddenly feels like a long time ago.

It now becomes very hard to see how both the NTCA and NECA can continue to co-exist. There will remain a commonality on a number of region-wide issues, of course, but surely their agendas and positioning are now vastly different.

Like it or not, the all-important eyes of Government will now on the Tees Valley and North of the Tyne, but if the region was to only move at the pace of its slowest members, then we’d continue to be left behind on the national and international landscape. We can ill afford that.

Those north and south of the river have worked so closely in the last 20 years to literally build the bridges to mutual success, but it feels like the Tyne just got a foot wider today.“

James Hall, partner at Barton Willmore

“This is very encouraging news for the North of Tyne councils. It’s increasingly clear the Tees Valley’s devolution deal is affording the area greater possibilities through new powers, increased funding and the support of the Government.

Northumberland, North Tyneside and Newcastle will have the collective clout to address important shared challenges, such as retaining graduate talent, improving local infrastructure and attracting inward investment.

As a planner I look forward to working with the new combined authority to make sure we call for the Government to give us the appropriate tools to address those challenges.“

What do you make of the news so far? Is the funding enough? Are you cautiously optimistic or simply unimpressed? Share your opinion with us in the comments section below.

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