Following the decision of the North East Combined Authority (NECA) not to consult on the governance scheme for a Mayoral Combined Authority, it seems the current devolution deal on offer to the North East from the Government will not proceed.
The deal has been a significant area of engagement and campaigning for UNISON Northern Region over the last year. We support the principles of devolution for greater local decision making and accountability but have opposed this particular deal because of its lack of adequate financial investment and the undemocratic nature of an imposed elected Mayor. We therefore welcome the decision of NECA.
Brexit meant that the financial package of the deal became uncertain and if anything the financial position has worsened, particularly in respect of the significant levels of EU funding currently received by the North East.
UNISON is committed to working with NECA, its constituent authorities and partners to secure the investment the North East needs.
In a press statement Clare Williams, Regional Secretary, said “UNISON supports the principles of devolution for greater local decision making and accountability but this deal is not right for the North East. It failed to offer adequate financial investment and the imposition of an elected Mayor against the wishes of the majority of people is undemocratic.
“The funding package on offer from the Government was not sufficient and a fraction of what each local authority is having to cut from their budgets year on year. A condition for the deal was fair funding for the North East and the Government have failed to deliver.
“An elected Mayor over an area stretching from north of Berwick-upon-Tweed to south of Barnard Castle is the wrong model for our region and for the Government to impose it is an affront to democracy.
“NECA leaders were right to seek guarantees that EU funding lost post-Brexit would be replaced and again the Government has failed to deliver. The current EU programme alone is worth £460 million to the Region.
“UNISON remains committed to devolution for the North East and calls on the Government to work with NECA to produce a plan that delivers true devolution and the investment that the North East needs.”