Political spat marks birth of 'super authority'

Simon Henig

Simon Henig

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Durham)

THE leader of a new “super authority” has insisted it will be subject to proper scrutiny, but admitted that will mostly be by fellow Labour councillors.

Simon Henig, Labour leader of Durham County Council, was speaking after an Order was approved to establish the North East Leadership Board (Nelb), a so-called combined authority with powers over transport, skills and economic development across seven councils and nearly a million people from the River Tees to the Scottish border.

Parliament approved the Order on Tuesday (April 15) and the Nelb held its first meeting the same day, at Durham’s County Hall.

But a political spat has immediately broken out, with Conservative local government minister Brandon Lewis calling for the Nelb’s scrutiny committee to be politically balanced – and particularly its chairman to be an opposition member.

In a letter to the seven council chiefs, he writes: “By following good practice in these ways, the various political parties represented on all the councils concerned will have appropriate involvement and influence in the work of your combined authority, maintaining that wide ranging support and continuing commitment which is essential for the success of your combined authority.”

Coun Henig said he was aware of the issue and, while it had not been discussed on Tuesday, it may be on the agenda at the next meeting, in a fortnight.

He insisted the authority would be subject to proper scrutiny, but said using standard methods for calculating political balance few non-Labour members would be selected.

Durham has proposed two Labour councillors, Joe Armstrong and Paul Stradling – the chairman and vice-chairman of its own scrutiny wing.

Coun Henig said it had been a very positive week for the Nelb, with a Labour Party policy review effectively backing combined authorities, and the body would bring benefits for the region in future.

“It’s difficult to predict what things will be like in five or ten years’ time but these bodies will be significant,” he said.

“They offer greater accountability (than the previous regional development agencies) and it’s better to be working together than separately.”

Mr Lewis said he was very pleased the Order had been approved, calling it “an important step for achieving the jobs, investment and growth all want to see in your area”.

Comments (18)

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5:14pm Thu 17 Apr 14

gramps427 says...

The ghost of ONE continues to haunt us; along with its failed policies.
The ghost of ONE continues to haunt us; along with its failed policies. gramps427
  • Score: 13

5:40pm Thu 17 Apr 14

BMD says...

The Labour government attempted to introduce English regional assemblies, on 4 November 2004, voters in the North East rejected the proposal by 77.9% on a turnout of 49%.

This North East Leadership Board (Nelb) is Labours Back-Door Politics.
The Labour government attempted to introduce English regional assemblies, on 4 November 2004, voters in the North East rejected the proposal by 77.9% on a turnout of 49%. This North East Leadership Board (Nelb) is Labours Back-Door Politics. BMD
  • Score: 8

5:56pm Thu 17 Apr 14

lowlandscot says...

What part of 'NO' don't they understand? We voted overwhelmingly against this idea of another layer of local government. Why do we bother!!!
What part of 'NO' don't they understand? We voted overwhelmingly against this idea of another layer of local government. Why do we bother!!! lowlandscot
  • Score: 17

7:45pm Thu 17 Apr 14

George19 says...

THE leader of a new “super authority” has insisted it will be subject to proper scrutiny, but admitted that will mostly be by fellow Labour councillors." Another bunch of troughers marking their own homework". Henig should remember he was against this authority until he found out he would be running it.
THE leader of a new “super authority” has insisted it will be subject to proper scrutiny, but admitted that will mostly be by fellow Labour councillors." Another bunch of troughers marking their own homework". Henig should remember he was against this authority until he found out he would be running it. George19
  • Score: 17

7:50pm Thu 17 Apr 14

Longbowman666 says...

If the Overview and Scrutiny committee of this new farcical 'authority' is anything like the same as DCC's one at present (which is, of course, heavily weighted in favour of the labour lot), then God help us all - and I can just imagine what the first order of business for it will be - oh yes, lets get the expenses sorted out, just as it was for certain Labour councillors just after the last Council election!
If the Overview and Scrutiny committee of this new farcical 'authority' is anything like the same as DCC's one at present (which is, of course, heavily weighted in favour of the labour lot), then God help us all - and I can just imagine what the first order of business for it will be - oh yes, lets get the expenses sorted out, just as it was for certain Labour councillors just after the last Council election! Longbowman666
  • Score: 11

8:17pm Thu 17 Apr 14

K. Richardson says...

Best of luck North East. You got what you voted for.
Best of luck North East. You got what you voted for. K. Richardson
  • Score: 1

8:21pm Thu 17 Apr 14

Longbowman666 says...

Oh yes, and of course, Joe Armstrong - what a real surprise that is, eh? Then of course, as Chairman of the DCC Overview and Scrutiny Committee, he's known for his political even handedness and 'listening to the people' isn't he...or am I being a tad cynical!
Oh yes, and of course, Joe Armstrong - what a real surprise that is, eh? Then of course, as Chairman of the DCC Overview and Scrutiny Committee, he's known for his political even handedness and 'listening to the people' isn't he...or am I being a tad cynical! Longbowman666
  • Score: 7

8:34pm Thu 17 Apr 14

durhamchap says...

More snouts in the trough !!
More snouts in the trough !! durhamchap
  • Score: 5

10:19pm Thu 17 Apr 14

tomtopper says...

Longbowman666 wrote:
Oh yes, and of course, Joe Armstrong - what a real surprise that is, eh? Then of course, as Chairman of the DCC Overview and Scrutiny Committee, he's known for his political even handedness and 'listening to the people' isn't he...or am I being a tad cynical!
He'll be buying himself another grotesquely expensive ring to celebrate no doubt... Maybe one for his councillor wife too..

Rotten to the core.. Rotten labour all over.. How anyone votes for these charlatans beggers belief
[quote][p][bold]Longbowman666[/bold] wrote: Oh yes, and of course, Joe Armstrong - what a real surprise that is, eh? Then of course, as Chairman of the DCC Overview and Scrutiny Committee, he's known for his political even handedness and 'listening to the people' isn't he...or am I being a tad cynical![/p][/quote]He'll be buying himself another grotesquely expensive ring to celebrate no doubt... Maybe one for his councillor wife too.. Rotten to the core.. Rotten labour all over.. How anyone votes for these charlatans beggers belief tomtopper
  • Score: 4

10:48pm Thu 17 Apr 14

John Durham says...

BMD wrote:
The Labour government attempted to introduce English regional assemblies, on 4 November 2004, voters in the North East rejected the proposal by 77.9% on a turnout of 49%.

This North East Leadership Board (Nelb) is Labours Back-Door Politics.
Labour's? This was a recommendation of 'Tory' Heseltine's report and granted by a Con-Lib-Dem government. If it was a Labour policy do you think either would have allowed it?
Also its not region-wide - the Tees Valley is not included in it so it has no relationship to the 'Regional Assembly' either.
Personally though I'm against this - because it actually works for one part of the region at the expense of another. So if you live in the Tees Valley you are right to be against it - just not for the reasons you state.
[quote][p][bold]BMD[/bold] wrote: The Labour government attempted to introduce English regional assemblies, on 4 November 2004, voters in the North East rejected the proposal by 77.9% on a turnout of 49%. This North East Leadership Board (Nelb) is Labours Back-Door Politics.[/p][/quote]Labour's? This was a recommendation of 'Tory' Heseltine's report and granted by a Con-Lib-Dem government. If it was a Labour policy do you think either would have allowed it? Also its not region-wide - the Tees Valley is not included in it so it has no relationship to the 'Regional Assembly' either. Personally though I'm against this - because it actually works for one part of the region at the expense of another. So if you live in the Tees Valley you are right to be against it - just not for the reasons you state. John Durham
  • Score: 5

10:57pm Thu 17 Apr 14

behonest says...

'Simon Henig, Labour leader of Durham County Council, said it will be subject to proper scrutiny, but admitted that will mostly be by fellow Labour councillors.'

Or, to put it more honestly, it will not be subject to proper scrutiny.
'Simon Henig, Labour leader of Durham County Council, said it will be subject to proper scrutiny, but admitted that will mostly be by fellow Labour councillors.' Or, to put it more honestly, it will not be subject to proper scrutiny. behonest
  • Score: 6

11:25pm Thu 17 Apr 14

tomtopper says...

behonest wrote:
'Simon Henig, Labour leader of Durham County Council, said it will be subject to proper scrutiny, but admitted that will mostly be by fellow Labour councillors.'

Or, to put it more honestly, it will not be subject to proper scrutiny.
Exactly... Just looking at Henigs picture gives me the creeps and reminds me of a high ranking Gestapo member...

All this is, is an exercise in money and, obviously, power, so loved by the socialist elite that ride on the back of the old fashioned but misplaced loyalty of places such as the North east..

Zero benefits, except to those in the higher trough of public sector excess..

Rotten to the core..
[quote][p][bold]behonest[/bold] wrote: 'Simon Henig, Labour leader of Durham County Council, said it will be subject to proper scrutiny, but admitted that will mostly be by fellow Labour councillors.' Or, to put it more honestly, it will not be subject to proper scrutiny.[/p][/quote]Exactly... Just looking at Henigs picture gives me the creeps and reminds me of a high ranking Gestapo member... All this is, is an exercise in money and, obviously, power, so loved by the socialist elite that ride on the back of the old fashioned but misplaced loyalty of places such as the North east.. Zero benefits, except to those in the higher trough of public sector excess.. Rotten to the core.. tomtopper
  • Score: 2

11:45pm Thu 17 Apr 14

John Durham says...

tomtopper wrote:
behonest wrote:
'Simon Henig, Labour leader of Durham County Council, said it will be subject to proper scrutiny, but admitted that will mostly be by fellow Labour councillors.'

Or, to put it more honestly, it will not be subject to proper scrutiny.
Exactly... Just looking at Henigs picture gives me the creeps and reminds me of a high ranking Gestapo member...

All this is, is an exercise in money and, obviously, power, so loved by the socialist elite that ride on the back of the old fashioned but misplaced loyalty of places such as the North east..

Zero benefits, except to those in the higher trough of public sector excess..

Rotten to the core..
'All this is, is an exercise in money and, obviously, power, so loved by the socialist elite that ride on the back of the old fashioned but misplaced loyalty of places such as the North east'

If this is so loved by the 'socialist elite' why is it government policy?

Government's response to the recommendations of the Heseltine Report:
'Combined Local Authorities; government will support local authorities who wish to create a combined authority or collaborations, including ensuring the existing legislation is fit for purpose'.
The government provides the over-arching scrutiny.

Is it so hard for you to blame the government for this rather than seeing Labour shadows everywhere?
[quote][p][bold]tomtopper[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]behonest[/bold] wrote: 'Simon Henig, Labour leader of Durham County Council, said it will be subject to proper scrutiny, but admitted that will mostly be by fellow Labour councillors.' Or, to put it more honestly, it will not be subject to proper scrutiny.[/p][/quote]Exactly... Just looking at Henigs picture gives me the creeps and reminds me of a high ranking Gestapo member... All this is, is an exercise in money and, obviously, power, so loved by the socialist elite that ride on the back of the old fashioned but misplaced loyalty of places such as the North east.. Zero benefits, except to those in the higher trough of public sector excess.. Rotten to the core..[/p][/quote]'All this is, is an exercise in money and, obviously, power, so loved by the socialist elite that ride on the back of the old fashioned but misplaced loyalty of places such as the North east' If this is so loved by the 'socialist elite' why is it government policy? Government's response to the recommendations of the Heseltine Report: 'Combined Local Authorities; government will support local authorities who wish to create a combined authority or collaborations, including ensuring the existing legislation is fit for purpose'. The government provides the over-arching scrutiny. Is it so hard for you to blame the government for this rather than seeing Labour shadows everywhere? John Durham
  • Score: 0

9:16am Fri 18 Apr 14

David Lacey says...

The Government went along with a request by the majority of the Region's councils. Had it not done so we know what the response would have been from lefties. The truth is that this is just a pale imitation of the elected regional assembly comprehensively rejected by the voters in 2004. Of course it has been slid under the back door. What will it achieve? For all our sakes I hope the answer is "a lot". But my gut tells me it will be nothing more than another talking shop. Time will tell.
The Government went along with a request by the majority of the Region's councils. Had it not done so we know what the response would have been from lefties. The truth is that this is just a pale imitation of the elected regional assembly comprehensively rejected by the voters in 2004. Of course it has been slid under the back door. What will it achieve? For all our sakes I hope the answer is "a lot". But my gut tells me it will be nothing more than another talking shop. Time will tell. David Lacey
  • Score: 1

9:19am Fri 18 Apr 14

tubgut says...

The gravy train continues rolling, with the usual planks on-board. What are the deliverable, timescales, reporting processes and accountabilities. The only thing this will generate is lots of hot air substantial expenses paid, all audited by another bunch of planks.

I wonder how many career councillors have joined the council pension scheme which just demonstrates contempt for the voting public they are so sure the voting pubic will vote for them regardless of performance.

Voters need to considered what the councillors have done for them and the North East, we have one of the largest % unemployed food banks decline of society, would you describe this as success or failure. If the answer is failure then these is no point in continuing with the same change it.
The gravy train continues rolling, with the usual planks on-board. What are the deliverable, timescales, reporting processes and accountabilities. The only thing this will generate is lots of hot air substantial expenses paid, all audited by another bunch of planks. I wonder how many career councillors have joined the council pension scheme which just demonstrates contempt for the voting public they are so sure the voting pubic will vote for them regardless of performance. Voters need to considered what the councillors have done for them and the North East, we have one of the largest % unemployed food banks decline of society, would you describe this as success or failure. If the answer is failure then these is no point in continuing with the same change it. tubgut
  • Score: 5

12:49pm Fri 18 Apr 14

punkrocker says...

when do i get a vote on this supadupa council . no democracy here afraid.
when do i get a vote on this supadupa council . no democracy here afraid. punkrocker
  • Score: 4

4:32pm Fri 18 Apr 14

BMD says...

John Durham wrote:
BMD wrote: The Labour government attempted to introduce English regional assemblies, on 4 November 2004, voters in the North East rejected the proposal by 77.9% on a turnout of 49%. This North East Leadership Board (Nelb) is Labours Back-Door Politics.
Labour's? This was a recommendation of 'Tory' Heseltine's report and granted by a Con-Lib-Dem government. If it was a Labour policy do you think either would have allowed it? Also its not region-wide - the Tees Valley is not included in it so it has no relationship to the 'Regional Assembly' either. Personally though I'm against this - because it actually works for one part of the region at the expense of another. So if you live in the Tees Valley you are right to be against it - just not for the reasons you state.
The North East Leadership Board, has been doggedly pursued by the Labour councillors without any consultation or vote from the electorate.

Shameful Back Door Politics – by Gravy Train Labour Councillors
[quote][p][bold]John Durham[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]BMD[/bold] wrote: The Labour government attempted to introduce English regional assemblies, on 4 November 2004, voters in the North East rejected the proposal by 77.9% on a turnout of 49%. This North East Leadership Board (Nelb) is Labours Back-Door Politics.[/p][/quote]Labour's? This was a recommendation of 'Tory' Heseltine's report and granted by a Con-Lib-Dem government. If it was a Labour policy do you think either would have allowed it? Also its not region-wide - the Tees Valley is not included in it so it has no relationship to the 'Regional Assembly' either. Personally though I'm against this - because it actually works for one part of the region at the expense of another. So if you live in the Tees Valley you are right to be against it - just not for the reasons you state.[/p][/quote]The North East Leadership Board, has been doggedly pursued by the Labour councillors without any consultation or vote from the electorate. Shameful Back Door Politics – by Gravy Train Labour Councillors BMD
  • Score: 3

6:10pm Fri 18 Apr 14

John Durham says...

So lets see if I've got this right.

The NE Chamber of Commerce which represents business leaders pursued this with local authorities in the region once the Tory-led government had taken on board what an ex-Tory minister had recommended in a report and Osborne then opened the door to the idea of 'super authorities' with government scrutiny and government support.

And this was all a Labour plot to fool the public of the North East.

I think I've heard it all now.
So lets see if I've got this right. The NE Chamber of Commerce which represents business leaders pursued this with local authorities in the region once the Tory-led government had taken on board what an ex-Tory minister had recommended in a report and Osborne then opened the door to the idea of 'super authorities' with government scrutiny and government support. And this was all a Labour plot to fool the public of the North East. I think I've heard it all now. John Durham
  • Score: 3

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