North East Devolution and Levelling Up

More devolution on the way – but the North East still drags its feet

Devolution deals and mayors could be coming soon for three more areas of northern England, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has said – ten days after just such a development was foreseen by this website.

New mayoralties could be created in Cumbria, North Yorkshire and the East Riding, Jenrick said in an interview with the Financial Times, picked up by The Guardian and the ConservativeHome website.

These reports are in line with my blog on this site on September 3 detailing the steps towards devolution being taken by North Yorkshire and Cumbria and reporting that Hull and East Riding were also talking about a deal.

Meanwhile, there still appears to be no more movement towards wider devolution in the North East. Though North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll continues to talk up the prospects of a deal covering the area’s seven councils, the position of the North East Combined Authority (NECA), covering the four councils south of the river, remains non-committal and foot-dragging at best.

NECA’s Leadership Board meets tomorrow, but its brief statement on devolution takes the issue no further forward.

‘In the previous update it was reported that the LA7 local authorities (NECA and North of Tyne Combined Authority) have been discussing what is needed to help the region make a continued, strong economic recovery from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic’, says the NECA chair, Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland Council, in his written update.

‘At this stage, the discussions continue with a view to forming joint proposals on what asks could be made of government for devolved funding and powers to further aid economic growth and recovery.’  And five wasted years after NECA rejected the government’s last devolution offer, that’s it.