THE head of a new “super authority” has insisted the North-East’s councils are ready to work together for the benefit of the whole region, following talks with a government minister.

Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council and chair of the new North East Combined Authority (NECA), was speaking following a regional meeting with Cities and Constitution minister Greg Clark.

Six council chiefs attended Monday’s (June 16) summit in Newcastle, including Paul Watson, who earlier this year delayed signing Sunderland City Council up for the initiative, and Paul Woolston, chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (Lep).

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Councillor Henig said: “I hope this sends a strong message that we are ready and able to work together to deliver what this region needs to transform its economic fortunes.”

Mr Clark, who was born in Middlesbrough, now plans to hold further talks with the region’s business leaders and MPs.

Cllr Henig said: “These meetings will ensure there is good shared knowledge and understanding both regionally and nationally and that we tackle improving the economy, transport and skills together in a unified way.”

Mr Clark said the meeting had been constructive, adding: “By working so closely together, the North-East can make the most of the powers the Government is devolving them to create a new era of prosperity for everyone in the region.”

The NECA has powers over transport, skills and economic development across seven councils and nearly a million people from the River Tees to the Scottish border.

Mr Woolston said: “Through the strategic economic plan we have already shown the strength of partnership working, developing a cohesive and inclusive plan to create more and better jobs for the North-East.

“Today’s meeting represents the next step in this journey.

“By working together we will strengthen the North-East offer, attracting greater levels of investment and building our national and international reputation to enable us to grow a prosperous economy.”

Mr Clark’s visit came as the Government agreed “City Deals” for Tees Valley and Sunderland-South Tyneside which it is hoped will create more than 8,000 jobs and attract £300m in private sector investment.