North East leaders are attempting to negotiate a ‘zero poverty, zero carbon’ devolution deal with the government, North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll has said.
They also want a regional wealth fund that would facilitate the creation of 50,000 well paid jobs, as part of a new deal to build on North of Tyne Combined Authority’s existing agreement.
Mayor Driscoll stated the area’s aims in a virtual conference of leading Labour Party members including former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and representatives from Scotland and Wales.
The new deal could lead to the reunification of the seven councils which split into two combined authorities – North of Tyne (NTCA) and North East (NECA) – following their rejection of a devolution offer from the government in 2016.
Mayor Driscoll said: ‘The primary issue is that there’s been a total lack of investment in the North East and you can’t fix that by having just any kind of devolution – it’s a mayoral model at the moment – for just half of the region…It makes no sense whatsoever.
‘So what we have said to central government is “you give us a deal that’s heavy-weight enough to create the 50,000 jobs and devolve how those jobs are created – and what constitutes a good job to me – and we’re all up for it” because that then is what we are after.
‘It’s a zero-poverty, zero-carbon deal that we’re going for. The best way to deal with poverty is to get low-paid people into well-paid jobs. But there’s also lots of peripheral things around it. So that’s what we are going for, that’s what we are negotiating, then regionally they [NECA] will have to make their decision whether they want to come with us, and I strongly hope they do’.
Mr McDonnell told the online event that under the current governmentdevolutiondeals were ‘the only show in town’.