North East Devolution and Levelling Up

Northumberland Labour add backing to devolution call

The Labour group on Northumberland County Council has become the latest to join the growing chorus of voices backing a North East devolution deal.

It was responding to a statement by the council’s Conservative leader, Councillor Glen Stevenson, that he preferred the informal structures through which the seven councils currently co-operate.

But there are two big problems with the present informal group (the LA7). It is not accountable, meeting in private and publishing no agendas, reports or minutes, as this website has repeatedly pointed out.

And because it is not accountable, the government – understandably – will not give it any funding or powers, thus denying the North East hundreds of millions of pounds and opportunities such as a London-style franchised bus network.

As Northumberland’s Labour leader, Councillor Scott Dickinson, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service, reported in today’s Journal, Councillor Sanderson’s stance is a classic example of not acting for the greater good.

‘Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face’, said Councillor Dickinson.

True enough, but has he given the same message to his fellow Labour councillors south of the Tyne, in Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland, who are still dragging their feet more than five years after rejecting the government’s last devolution offer to the region?