Deadline for creating North-East 'super authority' could be missed

Simon Henig: forging ahead

Simon Henig: forging ahead

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Parliamentary Correspondent

THE deadline for creating a new North-East “super authority” - with beefed-up powers – could be missed due to town hall wrangling.

MPs were expected to approve the new body yesterday (Wednesday, March 19), stretching from the River Tees to the Scottish borders, covering seven councils and more than a million people.

But the order to set up the ‘North-East Leadership Board’ was missing, even as combined authorities were established in West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and Merseyside.

Now the Government has conceded that the long-established deadline for it to be up-and-running – April 1 – hangs in the balance and could be missed.

A spokeswoman for the department for communities and local government (DCLG) said: “That could happen – we can’t pre-empt the parliamentary process.”

But Simon Henig, the Labour leader of Durham County Council, suggested any delay would be short and that the plans were still forging ahead.

The Board’s proposed chairman said: “We expect formal confirmation of the timescales for the legal process in the very near future.

“It may be the case that this work cannot be completed to allow the authority to launch by April 1, but what is most important is that it will go ahead - and that will bring considerable economic benefits.”

The new authority will not replace the existing local councils, but is seen as key to winning devolved powers over job creation, skills development and improving transport links.

The LA7 group - made up of Durham, Northumberland, Newcastle, Sunderland, North Tyneside and South Tyneside councils – also believes they will be able to plan economic development more effectively.

Significantly, the combined authority is backed by business organisations in the region, including the influential North-East Chamber of Commerce.

The way appeared to be cleared in January, when a deal was hammered out in crisis talks to persuade Sunderland City Council to drop its opposition.

Two weeks ago, the Cabinet Office sent out a letter stating the process was underway – but it later emerged that civil servants had jumped the gun.

Earlier this month, Greg Clark, the Middlesbrough-born cities minister, said the North-East would be “crazy” to pull back – and expressed confidence that the problems had been overcome.

The minister has suggested a “super-authority” will make it easier to implement the devolution drive set out, last year, by an expert panel headed by Labour peer Lord Adonis.

The DCLG spokeswoman said the draft order for the North-East was not laid until late last week, because of disagreements between the region’s councils.

She added: “The local authorities involved understand the issues and parliamentary process.

“We are in regular contact with them and understand that they are working to be ready to start as soon as the order is made.”

Comments (11)

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8:31am Wed 19 Mar 14

tubgut says...

Probably another target missed, if what we have don't work making it bigger wont either just takes longer to arrive at the conclusion of what a waste of time and money. Does anyone understand why what they have failed to deliver. No doubt the usual suspects will be involved what a waste of space and time. There must be an executive summary somewhere I think that should be published it's our money we have a right to know. Do they have a list of SMART targets we should know these so performance can be monitored.
Probably another target missed, if what we have don't work making it bigger wont either just takes longer to arrive at the conclusion of what a waste of time and money. Does anyone understand why what they have failed to deliver. No doubt the usual suspects will be involved what a waste of space and time. There must be an executive summary somewhere I think that should be published it's our money we have a right to know. Do they have a list of SMART targets we should know these so performance can be monitored. tubgut
  • Score: 11

8:34am Wed 19 Mar 14

David Lacey says...

Just another tax payer funded talking shop run by the same people who have kept us rooted to the bottom of every economic, social, health and education league table. It will achieve precisely nothing.
Just another tax payer funded talking shop run by the same people who have kept us rooted to the bottom of every economic, social, health and education league table. It will achieve precisely nothing. David Lacey
  • Score: 17

9:06am Wed 19 Mar 14

Withnail Lefty says...

Will this new super authority save us even more than the "£82 million" that was supposed to be saved by the creation of the Unitary Authority (Durham County Council)?
Will this new super authority save us even more than the "£82 million" that was supposed to be saved by the creation of the Unitary Authority (Durham County Council)? Withnail Lefty
  • Score: 16

9:30am Wed 19 Mar 14

Ally F says...

Disgraceful. Proof if ever it were needed that the region's Public Sector 'jobs for the boys for life' policy has survived the economic down-turn totally unscathed. In fact, its healthier than ever.

"Let's create a regional talking shop funded by the tax payer and appoint ourselves to run it."

Meanwhile council run old people's homes are slated for closure, forcing elderly and infirm residents to endure major unheaval by moving them away from all that is familiar. What a perverted set of priorities our regional civic leaders hold.

The term 'Public Servant' is a perversion of the truth, Self Servant would be more accurate.
Disgraceful. Proof if ever it were needed that the region's Public Sector 'jobs for the boys for life' policy has survived the economic down-turn totally unscathed. In fact, its healthier than ever. "Let's create a regional talking shop funded by the tax payer and appoint ourselves to run it." Meanwhile council run old people's homes are slated for closure, forcing elderly and infirm residents to endure major unheaval by moving them away from all that is familiar. What a perverted set of priorities our regional civic leaders hold. The term 'Public Servant' is a perversion of the truth, Self Servant would be more accurate. Ally F
  • Score: 14

9:46am Wed 19 Mar 14

Daveindarlo says...

We don't want another level of government or unelected bureaucrats, we voted no for thus not long ago.
We don't want another level of government or unelected bureaucrats, we voted no for thus not long ago. Daveindarlo
  • Score: 16

9:47am Wed 19 Mar 14

DURHAM CITY says...

This is an absolute joke it should not be happening in the first place get a grip Henig
This is an absolute joke it should not be happening in the first place get a grip Henig DURHAM CITY
  • Score: 15

10:06am Wed 19 Mar 14

punkrocker says...

anything connected with Henig automatically means failure. this will be a disaster and who actually voted for this.
anything connected with Henig automatically means failure. this will be a disaster and who actually voted for this. punkrocker
  • Score: 13

10:33am Wed 19 Mar 14

John Durham says...

Daveindarlo wrote:
We don't want another level of government or unelected bureaucrats, we voted no for thus not long ago.
Assuming you are in Darlo as your name suggests you may be interested to know that Darlington is not included in the combined authority area. It does not include the Tees Valley authorities.
[quote][p][bold]Daveindarlo[/bold] wrote: We don't want another level of government or unelected bureaucrats, we voted no for thus not long ago.[/p][/quote]Assuming you are in Darlo as your name suggests you may be interested to know that Darlington is not included in the combined authority area. It does not include the Tees Valley authorities. John Durham
  • Score: 2

11:43am Wed 19 Mar 14

John Durham says...

Who suggested this? - Michael Heseltine in his report to Osborne.
Who allowed it? - Communities and Local Government Minister.
Who gets the blame for responding to the government's recommendations for regional growth? Local labour council leaders.
Tory win, win!
Who suggested this? - Michael Heseltine in his report to Osborne. Who allowed it? - Communities and Local Government Minister. Who gets the blame for responding to the government's recommendations for regional growth? Local labour council leaders. Tory win, win! John Durham
  • Score: -5

12:21pm Wed 19 Mar 14

Longbowman666 says...

Ooh, Henig and co might miss a gravy train - perhaps they should spend more time running their own authority efficiently rather than looking at how they can botch up something else and take the money!
Ooh, Henig and co might miss a gravy train - perhaps they should spend more time running their own authority efficiently rather than looking at how they can botch up something else and take the money! Longbowman666
  • Score: 8

7:08pm Thu 20 Mar 14

George19 says...

and that will bring considerable economic benefits.” is Henig pre programme with these sayings.
and that will bring considerable economic benefits.” is Henig pre programme with these sayings. George19
  • Score: 0

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