Durham County Council has reportedly been given a mid-October deadline to agree to join a new North East devolution deal with the area’s six other councils to its north.
But the ultimatum came from outgoing Levelling Up Secretary Greg Clark, and what the approach of his successor Simon Clarke will be is as yet unknown.
News of the latest moves is reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service in ChronicleLive and follows a report on this website earlier this week that North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll was hoping for a new deal for the region ‘soon’.
ChronicleLive understands that a final draft of a deal has been agreed by the government and the local authorities and is ready for announcement by Simon Clarke, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland and an associate of Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen.
The paper also reports that Greg Clark, before leaving office, had agreed to keep open until mid-October the possibility of Durham joining Northumberland and the five Tyne & Wear councils in the deal.
The terms are reported to be very close to those outlined here two days ago, though possibly with the 30-year annual investment grant increased to reflect the larger population if Durham were to be included. That implies a grant of about £45m a year, which would be the largest of any devolution deal so far.
Local governance meetings are reported to have been arranged for September to allow the deal to be ratified, but there appears to be no information about these yet on relevant websites so interested members of the public can attend. Durham County Council’s cabinet is due to hold its next meeting on September 14 and the council itself a week later. The North East Combined Authority’s leadership board is due to meet at Sunderland City Hall on October 4.