In the furore associated with the Government’s response to the Heseltine Review another highly significant announcement regarding the North East has been overlooked.
Last Friday, the leaders of the seven councils that make up the North Eastern LEP (Newcastle, Gateshead, North & South Tyneside, Sunderland, Northumberland and Durham) voted to give their collaboration on economic development and transport legal status by becoming a Combined Authority.
They join a growing group that includes not only the Greater Manchester Combined Authority but also West Yorkshire (Leeds City Region) and South Yorkshire (Sheffield City Region), both of which declared their intention in their City Deals of forming combined authorities.
For those that want to know a bit more about Combined Authorities we published a briefing on them a while back looking at their powers, funding and potential advantages.
Coupled with yesterday’s announcement at the launch of the Greater Birmingham Project: the Path to Local Growth that Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP will set up a ‘supervisory board’ to manage and “provide political accountability” for single pot growth funding means that a system of city-region governance for England at least is beginning to take shape.
Once the Combined Authorities are in place then the appetite to revisit the merits of Metro-Mayors, which we’ve been advocates for since our 2006 City Leadership report, will grow.
Directly-elected Metro-Mayors overseeing strategically focused city-region authorities. Now that really would be a significant step towards ‘real’ devolution.