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Time for Government to give Tyneside city-region more powers

November 30, 2009 3:35 PM

Lib Dem parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle East Greg Stone has called on the Government to speed up the devolution of powers on matters such as the economy, housing, and transport to the Tyneside city-region, following the announcement of an agreement, the first of its type, between central Government and the Leeds city region.

Under the new arrangements the Leeds city-region, which extends to include neighbouring authorities such as Bradford, Kirklees, Harrogate, and York, will take on additional responsibility for the following areas:

  • London style powers over housing and regeneration funding under a new Housing and Regeneration Board, including new green housing and zero carbon schemes
  • Energy efficiency programmes to cut fuel poverty and boost home insulation
  • An Employment and Skills Board driven by local employers, allowing greater control over local skills and employment programmes to meet the needs of local people and business
  • Funding to support improvements to local transport and innovation

A similar pilot is expected to be announced shortly for the Greater Manchester area.

Greg Stone said "Similar arrangements for the Tyneside city-region are needed to allow our area to make economic progress, otherwise we will be left behind by the big Northern cities like Leeds and Manchester who are being given these new funds and powers.

I accept that there may need to be agreement on the potential role of South Tyneside and Sunderland, but can see no obvious reason why Newcastle, Gateshead, and North Tyneside could not easily adopt a similar model to that announced for Leeds. Working on a city-region basis which recognises the fundamental role of Tyneside in driving the economy of the wider region cannot be optional - it is urgently needed. I am surprised and disappointed that the Government is letting our area down again by giving Leeds and Manchester the tools to do the job, but denying them to Tyneside. Far more can be done by working collaboratively on a city-region basis than on individual authorities working solely within their own patch".