TODAY really is D-Day for all of the North East and North Yorkshire, not just decision day but devolution day as, for the first time, the whole region from Selby to the Scottish borders gets to choose a mayor.

It is a far from perfect system. Newcastle could dominate the North East with Teesdale feeling a long way from the seat of power. Similarly, if true blue North Yorkshire finds the red city voters of York have imposed a Labour mayor upon it, the shock could be so seismic that the hens stop laying.

Yet we believe devolution as a principle is correct. Power, and money, should be devolved out of distant London and into our local areas with local people put in charge of spending it.

In 2017, the concept of the Tees Valley was not popular, but now, seven years later, it can be seen that the mayor has put this corner of the world on the map and he has embarked on big transformational projects – voters here today have to decide whether he has done so properly and whether he has the right ideas for the future.

In the other areas, voters have no track record to go by, and, because the geography is so large, they may not have encountered any of the candidates. They may, therefore, struggle to know where to place their cross. That is understandable, especially where people are being asked to vote for Police & Crime Commissioners, roles which have not captured the public imagination – and Durham’s investigation of Sir Keir Starmer’s “beergate” during lockdown shows how uneasy the politicisation of the police has become.

However, having outlined the negatives, in future people will look back positively on our D-Day. By then, the system will have been refined and today will be seen as the start of the decentralisation of Britain, the most centralised country in Europe. We urge people to put aside the negatives and go out and vote for the start of devolution.