The recent Budget put the spotlight back on the Government’s “devolution revolution”, with a number of new combined authority areas agreeing to have a devolution deal and a directly elected mayor. The reaction? Very mixed. Celebration of historic agreements across boundaries sits side-by-side with criticisms, including some mayors being seen as an undemocratic imposition, or the devolution agenda being regarded as a political ploy to shift the blame for public service cuts to local (often Labour) leaders, instead of the national Conservative government.
This divide in opinion has played out very publicly in the North East in recent months. Businesses in the area have argued that the deal could be “spectacular“, and councils in Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland have all agreed to sign up. However, in the same period of time, Labour MPs have penned an open letter urging local leaders to reject the deal, and both Gateshead and Durham councils have refused to ratify the deal.
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