Plans to reignite the untapped potential of the North East and hand leaders more power were set out at the first ever, cross party mayoral meeting held in 10 Downing Street today

Joined by England metro mayors, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister set out their ambitions for each leader to deliver economic growth working hand-in-hand with central government to benefit local people.

They confirmed that Mayors will be backed with new powers over planning, skills, employment support and transport; along with integrated funding settlements to leaders who demonstrate exemplary handling of public money.

During the first-of-its kind meeting, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister reaffirmed their belief that Mayors have the vital local knowledge, capacity or flexibility needed to take advantage of every opportunity.

Mayors will also develop Local Growth Plans which will help harness local strengths and deliver new opportunities, unblocking things standing in the way of tapping the potential that exists.

Prime Minister Keir Starmer said: “I am a great believer in giving local people the power to make their own decisions, ensuring that areas like Tees Valley are at the heart of our country’s success.   

“Until now, too many decisions have been made in Westminster, miles away from people in the Valley, that have an impact on your daily lives.

“That’s not right – and it is precisely why we are working in partnership with local leaders like Ben Houchen who know their areas best to deliver economic growth.  

“By drawing on the incredible local knowledge of the people here, we will ensure we tackle inequalities and boost living standards to ensure everyone’s voice is heard.” 

The Deputy Prime Minister will write to all Mayors reiterating the need to work together to develop proposals to boost growth and other opportunities.

A key part of the roundtable focused on resetting the relationship between central and regional governments, focusing on public service, respect and collaboration, along with the early steps needed to unlock economic growth and tackle regional inequality.

The Deputy Prime Minister also reiterated the government’s commitment to widening devolution to more areas, encouraging more local authorities to come together and take on new powers.

Mayors can play an important role in advocating for the benefits of devolution and showing the impact they have been able to make with expanded powers.

The government will also establish a Council of Nations and Regions bringing together the Prime Minister, the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales, the First and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, and the Mayors of Combined Authorities.

Deputy Prime Minister Angela Rayner said: “The Tees Valley remains one of the proudest industrial landscapes of the United Kingdom.

“More than 1,400 local companies specialise in the chemical sector, and it will also lead the world in clean energy, low carbon and hydrogen.

“With so much potential in its emerging sectors, our ambition is to spread even more opportunities.  

“We want to relight the fire of our regions to drive growth in every part of this country, and to do this properly we need people who know their areas best to have their say.

“That’s why it’s so important we work hand-in-hand with our Mayors to harness the potential of our towns and cities, tackle regional inequalities and to make a difference to people’s lives.

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“But I want to take devolution even further and expand our offer to other areas – and I invite local leaders from parts of England without a mayor to come forward and speak to us about how we can work with you to transform your regions.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “I warmly welcome this opportunity to speak to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister to discuss how we can work together to ensure further prosperity and growth for the people of Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.

“Our region is the prime example in how devolution can deliver vital investment and well-paid jobs and I am committed to working with the new Government in continuing to drive forward our ambitious plans.”

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Today’s meeting marked the start of a new partnership between mayors and government, opening the door to a new structure for vital ongoing engagement.

North East Mayor Kim McGuinness said: “When I was elected, I vowed to fight for our region on the national stage and end the days where the North East was overlooked.

“Meeting the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister provided the opportunity to set out how we can work together to make the North East the home of real opportunity. 

The Northern Echo:

“Working with the new Government, we can transform the prospects of the North East and shape our destiny - where we stand tall as a region, improve our standing in the world and ensure people have opportunities to thrive. 

“Together, we can forge a powerful partnership which unlocks opportunity, tackles child poverty and creates a brighter future for everyone in our region.

“I look forward to working with the Prime Minister and the Cabinet to make that vision a reality.”