Statement on latest developments on NE Devolution Deal & Tees Valley Combined Authority
North East Liberal Democrats
Statement on latest North East Devolution Deal developments (NECA area)
We believe strongly in the importance of greater devolution to the North East and we are frustrated that internal Labour bickering is threatening to damage progress towards devolution and hold this region back. This squabble shows that the best interests of the region are not being safeguarded by the North East Labour party establishment and shows the risks of a single party political structure.
However, we recognise many of the concerns expressed about the current Deal , including the requirement for an elected mayor, and the lack of say afforded to the public on this decision. It is understandable that many are not happy with a situation where we are being asked to accept the Deal without knowing the full details on governance, funding, and costs. This is not a good week to ask us to put our faith in George Osborne.
This decision is too important to be left to the region's seven Labour council leaders, who are unable to unanimously recommend the Deal. Without unanimous NECA support and without meaningful input from the North East public, business sector and civic society, we question whether the current deal can now be considered to have legitimacy.
We believe a decision should be deferred to allow for further negotiations with Government and we encourage NECA to explore this with a view to establishing whether a better deal with wider support is possible. We call for urgent cross-party discussions on how the devolution deal process can be taken forward with greater consensus.
Note: For clarity, please note that this statement on behalf of the North East Liberal Democrats regional executive refers specifically to the NECA Devolution Deal and area, in recognition of the separate negotiation and process under way in the Tees Valley.
Statement on latest Tees Valley Combined Authority developments (TVU area)
Representatives from Tees Valley Lib Dem local parties met in Middlesbrough on 22nd March to discuss the proposal for a Tees Valley Combined Authority.
Briefed by Lib Dem councillors Julia Cherritt (Stockton), Anne Marie Curry (Darlington), and Josh Mason (Redcar), Lib Dems were unanimous in their support in principle for the move and expressed support for the potential to build on the success of Tees Valley Unlimited.
Ian Jones, chair of Middlesbrough & East Cleveland Lib Dems said:
"It's a real opportunity for devolution to work to secure a better future for the whole area provided it is inclusive and well-scrutinised. We are committed to working with emerging structures, but will press for greater democratic accountability and representation. We encourage Labour councillors to work in the interests of all rather than continue to protect their vested interest in maintaining a virtual one party state.
"The future of the Tees Valley rests on how well we now work together across local government with the corporate sector and other partners to provide economic growth, tackle the skills deficit, and unleash the talent at the heart of our community"