Gateshead Lib Dem leader of the opposition Dr Jonathan Wallace and former Newcastle leader Lord Shipley
Lib Dems on Gateshead Council press NECA to support call for Constitutional Convention
Liberal Democrats on Gateshead Council will move a motion on Thursday 22nd September calling on the North East Combined Authority to back the creation of a North East constitutional convention following the collapse of devolution proposals for the region.
Plans for an elected mayor and devolved powers were withdrawn after Labour splits and disagreements undermined the proposals for greater powers to the region.
Lib Dem Leader of the Opposition on Gateshead Council, Jonathan Wallace, said, “The failure of leadership by Labour in the North East and the intransigence of the Conservatives in demanding a one-size-fits-all elected mayoral model caused the collapse in plans to give the region a greater say over our own destiny.
“Bickering, leaderless Labour has not even left us in the slow lane. Instead, we are in the ‘No’ lane – going nowhere while other regions power ahead.
“There is now an urgent need to get the North East back on track. The mistake of leaving the creation of a suitable model of devolution in the hands solely of Labour council leaders and Tory ministers must not be repeated.
“Liberal Democrats are therefore calling for NECA to back the establishment of a constitutional convention to gather the views of stakeholders in the North East, such as businesses, the voluntary sector and, crucially, political parties other than just Labour.
“We need a devolution settlement that commands the support of the wider community of the North East which can be put to the government as the model for the region. We need to let the people of the region shape the settlement rather than leaving it in the hands of the regional Labour Party establishment.”
Lord John Shipley, former Leader of Newcastle City Council, endorsed the call. “The North East is in serious danger of falling behind other regions. We need powers over transport, the economy, skills and planning to be exercised in the North East.
“But that huge change cannot be left solely in the hands of regional Labour politicians whose lack of unity and leadership over recent weeks and months has left the North East in such a perilous position.”