The new North East devolution deal has been signed off by Government, for a combined authority stretching from Berwick to Barnard Castle – a lovely town with not one, but two opticians.

Levelling-up and devolution aren’t the same thing.  Devolution is about moving power and budgets away from Westminster.  Levelling-up is about reducing inequality.   And you can’t do it on the cheap. 

But this devolution deal does bring more power and funding to the North East.  It brings over £1 billion in the first three years, for transport, housing, skills training and job creation.  It explicitly includes programmes to tackle child poverty. It builds on the success of the North of Tyne, as I wrote in the Guardian.

In fact after that, they asked to send a photographer round to do a   profile piece. You can still see the lines on the carpet where I ran round with the hoover! 

If you want to read the full article, here the link  ‘They may be Tories but they are human’: how a Labour mayor sealed north-east devolution deal | Labour | The Guardian   There’s a bit of journalistic licence in there, mind.  I’m quite sure I never “bonded” with Michael Gove.  Nor was I “Jeremy Corbyn’s bodyguard”.  Still, that’s the media for you.

It’s been a long slog, but working alongside council leaders, we’ve delivered a deal that brings significant investment and crucial transport powers back to the region. The Tories were never going to reverse austerity and the vicious cuts to council budgets.  

Our job was to make sure that we got the best devolution deal possible for the North East. In fact, it was in my 2019 election manifesto that I’d try to bring the region together.  We’ve done that.

As devolution deals go, it compares well against other regions. Our annual investment fund is £48m a year for 2 million people, compared to Greater Manchester’s of £30m for 2.8m people and West Yorkshire’s of £38m for 2.2m people. And it gives us the chance to take buses back into public control and build an integrated transport system, with joint ticketing. 

 Keir Starmer was absolutely bang on in his New Year speech – devolving power to local areas leads to better results.  Regional wealth generation is exactly what we’ve been delivering in the North of Tyne.  We’ve increased adult skills enrolments by 49.7% for the same budget.  Every adult trained means another person able to earn more money.  

Our partnership with businesses is creating thousands of secure jobs that families can build a life around. Every £1 we invest earns the Treasury over £3 in payroll taxes. It’s economic common sense, and shows Labour delivers in power.  

We’ll see Labour deliver a Take Back Control bill when we’re in Government.  It will allow us in the North East to further improve the security and life chances of our people. 

This is what Take Back Control always should have been – rather than Cameron, May, Johnson, Truss, Sunak and co taking away people’s control of their lives by crashing the economy, unleashing industrial unrest, and pushing people into poverty.

Until next time, yours in solidarity,

 

Jamie Driscoll, 

North of Tyne Mayor

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