Durham “referendum” result is a warning for NECA and Government on NE Mayor
North East Liberal Democrats chair Cllr Amanda Hopgood, Leader of the Opposition on Durham County Council, has warned NECA leaders and the Government that the people of the region are yet to be convinced by their "metro mayor" proposals.
North East Liberal Democrats consider this vote sends a warning signal to NECA and DCLG that there is not clear public support for the proposed mayoral arrangements and that this option should be reconsidered.
In results of the Durham consultative “referendum”, a majority of respondents expressed the view that the North East Mayor should not be a political figurehead for the North East and should have limited power and influence (47.8%) as a chair of the Combined Authority's meetings.
43% of respondents felt that it is better to “wait and see” before extending the Devolution Deal, with 22% stating they do no support more devolution. Only 28% expressed support for more devolution.
36% of respondents felt that the Devolution Deal would have little or no impact on the county and a further 9% felt it would lead to less jobs and prosperity in the county, outweighing the 40% of respondents who believe it will bring jobs and prosperity.
Cllr Hopgood stated:
“It is striking that the only consultation within the Combined Authority area which has allowed people to cast a vote in support of their views has resulted in a less than resounding vote in favour. In particular, voters seem unconvinced that giving the Mayor greater powers is a positive, and there are decidedly mixed views as to whether the Devolution Deal will actually bring more jobs and prosperity. There is also no clear majority in support of greater devolution at this stage.
Given that residents of other Combined Authority council areas have not had the opportunity to vote in the same way, it should be a cause of concern to the region’s Labour leadership that the public in Durham seem unenthused by what is on offer at present. There is certainly no clear mandate in favour of a powerful regional Mayor, or for greater devolution powers at this stage" .
"Liberal Democrats strongly support greater North East devolution but we want to ensure any arrangements put in place are democratic, accountable, and that there is public support for any changes. After failed previous mayoral experiments in the North East, we caution NECA and the Government against imposing unwanted change, and we encourage them to do more to address concerns about the democratic legitimacy of the current 'one party state' Combined Authority arrangements. They need to raise their game and make a much more convincing case if they expect the people of the North East to support their plans.”
Notes for editors
Durham devolution "referendum" result:
Votes cast: 81694 (21.7%)
- A step in the right direction 59.5%
- Will make little or no difference 19.9%
- Wrong thing to do 14.9%
- Don't know 5.7%
Should the NE mayor
- Have quite a lot of power and influence: a voice for NE 40.3%
- Have limited power and influence: chairs CA but not a voice for NE 47.8%
- Don't know 11.9%
Should the Devo Deal have more powers
- No: don't support more devolution 22.4%
- Not sure: wait and see 42.9%
- Yes: more devolution 28.3%
- Don't know: 6.4%
Will Devo Deal
- bring more jobs and prosperity to Co Durham 40.5%
- have little or no impact on Co Durham 36.2%
- lead to less jobs and prosperity in Co Durham 9.1%
- Don't know: 14.2%