Teesside has moved a step closer to having a metro mayor after the region’s five local authorities pushed for the area to be included in the Government’s first round of devolution deals.
Chancellor George Osborne has pledged to give cities in England the chance to take control of their own affairs – but only if they accept an elected mayor.
The Labour leaders of the five Tees authorities last week met the leaders met Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, and Northern Powerhouse Minister James Wharton to promote the case for greater power for Teesside.
If achieved, it could unlock a potential £44bn of additional growth for the region by 2030.
Stockton South MP Wharton issued a joint statement with the five Tees leaders – Middlesbrough Mayor Dave Budd, Redcar and Cleveland leader Sue Jeffrey, Stockton leader Bob Cook, Darlington leader Bill Dixon and Hartlepool leader Christopher Akers-Belcher – putting forward the case for devolution.
“It is a prize worth having for the Tees Valley,” it said.
“It is the reason we must put ourselves at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse, making the idea a reality for the people of the Tees Valley.
“If we secure the right devolution deal it would mean less bureaucracy and an end to the meddling of the Whitehall machine in London.
“It would mean better decisions could be made locally and taken quickly. It would facilitate cooperation across services and spending in ways which have never been achieved before.
“We have the opportunity to determine our own destiny, and it is a chance we must seize.”
But the leaders warned: “This is not a free ticket to future prosperity. We know it will require hard work and continuing strong local leadership.
“In recent months the focus has been on Greater Manchester, and the Government is now negotiating devolution deals with the Sheffield City Region, Leeds, West Yorkshire and its partner authorities, and the Liverpool City Region.
“We want Tees Valley to be part of this important first round of devolution deals.
“All have been achieved in a tough economic climate. The Tees Valley LEP is one of the most successful in the country.
“We have secured a City Deal and our combined authority proposal is nearly there. But we can still do more.”