NORTH-East council leaders have hammered out a deal to rescue a proposed “super authority”.
The idea of a new body with powers over jobs, training and transport had seemed doomed after Sunderland said it could not sign up until more details emerged.
However, following crisis talks in Durham earlier this week Sunderland is back on board.
Council chiefs will now ask the Government to pass a new law to create the combined authority in April.
The combined authority, to be known as the North East Leadership Board, would stretch from the River Tees to the Scottish borders, covering seven councils and more than a million people.
Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson said: “It’s been clear for some time that although residents, businesses and partners could see benefits in being part of the Combined Authority, they needed reassurance that Sunderland would not be disadvantaged in any way – particularly in relation to economic investment.
“This reflected the city council’s own views.
“Because of this and the fact the Local Authority 7 (councils) hadn’t been able to put some of the essential building blocks in place ahead of the response deadline, I felt the right and responsible thing to do was to ask Government for more time to resolve these fundamental issues before a Combined Authority could be established.
“Having made good progress with colleagues locally on the outstanding issues around the Combined Authority and with Government colleagues – providing local people with the necessary confidence that investment will happen in Sunderland as part of the wider region’s economic development – I am now comfortable to recommend to Government that we move ahead with the establishment of the Combined Authority.”
Durham County Council leader Simon Henig, who is leading the North East Leadership Board in-waiting, said it was a very welcome development.