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Newcastle's Liberal Democrats call on Council Leader to issue a public statement amid talks about a new North East Mayor plan

May 19, 2021 11:38 AM
North of Tyne combined authority logoLiberal Democrats in Newcastle are calling for Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council, to make a public statement, after it emerged that talks are resuming with the Government about replacing the current North of Tyne authority and Mayor, with a new directly-elected Mayor across the authorities covering the so-called 'LA7', including Northumberland, North Tyneside, Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland and Durham, as well as Newcastle.
The Government is looking at plans to create a bigger metro-mayoral authority capable of delivering its 'levelling up' agenda. The talks come following disquiet about the record of the incumbent Mayor of North of Tyne, Mayor Jamie Driscoll, and the competence of the authority which he leads, not least due to the failure of the recent freeport zone bid. The current Mayor's competences are far fewer than similar Mayors covering Greater Manchester or the Liverpool City Region which have a much greater range of powers and budgets and Liberal Democrats believe that Newcastle and the LA7 are missing out.
Cllr Greg Stone, Opposition spokesperson on North of Tyne, said:
'We questioned the original mandate for the North of Tyne Deal and expressed concerns about it being under-powered. It has not been transformative in the way its exponents promised, and has weakened rather than strengthened governance of transport in the region.

We don't think this authority has a clear direction under the current Mayor. The authority lacks clarity over its strategic vision and key priorities and the current resources are not delivering well as they should. This is a context for any talks with the Government.'
Cllr Nick Cott, Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition added:
'Cllr Forbes needs to urgently issue a public statement about the Council's position on the matter of the future of the North of Tyne authority and the office of the Mayor. The squabbling of the leaders of the local authorities in LA7 left us with a devolution settlement without the range of powers and financial competences needed. Whilst metro mayors across the country make real differences to the lives of people, the impact of North of Tyne has been far too limited. We are calling for Cllr Forbes to accept the failures of the North of Tyne and represent the need for a better devolution settlement which will benefit residents in Newcastle and elsewhere so much more in terms of economic planning, and investment in jobs, infrastructure and transport.'