DURHAM has a huge decision to make over its destiny. The six local authorities of Tyneside, Wearside and Northumberland are on the verge of sealing a devolution deal that would see them elect their own mayor and gain £3bn from central government, plus a lot of extra responsibilities.

We believe in devolution. We believe decisions taken locally are better than decisions imposed on the region from Whitehall. We believe that it is a nonsense for the great city of Newcastle to be split up, as it is now. We believe that the elected mayor in the Tees Valley is making a difference.

Therefore, the new plans make a lot of sense and we hope the new government will allow this “north-east” deal to go ahead – it seems to be down to the new levelling up secretary, Simon Clarke, so there must be every chance that it will.

But should Durham be a part of it?

If it stays out, Durham will retain its shining independence and be able to promote itself.

But Durham is small – population 520,000. Even the Tees Valley, population 677,000, is bigger. Will Durham be heard on its own against other mayors of London, Manchester or Liverpool?

If it goes in, Durham would lose some of its identity and would fear being dominated by Newcastle – that is why the regional assembly referendum was lost in 2004.

But it would gain by being part of a coherent unit with a big voice at a time when many of its major issues – think the Leamside line, for instance – demand a collaborative approach.

Durham needs to resolve this debate pretty quickly if it doesn’t want to get left behind.