ON Friday morning, a government minister will be in Newcastle to announce details of the North of Tyne devolution deal confirmed by Chancellor Philip Hammond yesterday.

It will be worth £600m over the next 30 years to Newcastle, Northumberland and North Tyneside.

In his Budget, the Chancellor also announced £337m for the Tyne and Wear Metro, and name-checked Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen as he gave details of a £123m package for the former Redcar steelworks site.

Loading article content

Questions still remain over the real influence and power of the metro mayors who head up these deals, as well as the funds they are responsible for – as evidenced by the ongoing row between Mr Houchen and Labour MPs on Teesside over how new the £123m really is.

But if signing up to devolution is the price to pay for pushing your patch nearer the top of the Government’s agenda, can the rest of the region afford not to get involved?

There is no deal on the horizon in North Yorkshire. Seventeen Yorkshire authorities have indicated for the first time they want to unite, but any agreement is about as far away as Richmond is from Barnsley. A devolution deal between then-Chancellor George Osborne and all seven North-East councils was signed in October 2015, only to collapse five months later, leaving Newcastle, Northumberland and North Tyneside to go it alone.

If Durham, Gateshead, Sunderland and South Tyneside can now find a way of getting back round a table, or Yorkshire gets its act together, the region would be left with a fragmented picture, with potentially four mayors spanning a huge area. But surely the more voices knocking on the Government’s door to demand investment the better, if devolution is what it takes to get them to listen.