Legislation has been passed to create a new North East Combined Authority, transferring decision-making powers and investment to the region.

The Parliamentary Order means the North East can form its own authority, following the election of a mayor in May.

This milestone marks the conclusion of a process initiated by the announcement of the £4.2bn devolution deal agreed with the government by local leaders in December 2022.

Steps in the process involved a public consultation, the consent of seven local councils and two existing combined authorities, and the passed legislation.

The new combined authority will encompass the areas of County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside, and Sunderland.

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The change will not affect the services currently delivered by local councils.

In a joint statement, council leaders hailed the moment as a watershed for the region.

They said: "This is the end of a long and hard-fought journey for the North East.

"Important decisions about our region will be taken within the region and not from Whitehall.

"It's a momentous moment for the region to see law come into force that hands that power over."

The functions of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, Transport North East and Invest North East England will be carried out by the new combined authority, starting in May.

Endorsed by the government last year, the £4.2bn devolution deal reportedly received positive responses during public consultation.

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The agreement is predicted to generate an extra 24,000 jobs in the area and draw an additional £5bn in private sector investment.

Earlier this week, council leaders signed a 'trailblazer' devolution deal with the government, which guarantees that more powers will be devolved to the region in addition to those initially agreed upon.

The election for a mayor to lead the new combined authority is set to occur on May 2, with the new authority commencing operations on May 7.