THE group pushing for a North-East super-council has welcomed news that it will be set up this spring.
The Cabinet Office has announced today (Wednesday, March 5) that the process is underway to create a new combined authority for the region in April.
The LA7 group , made up of Durham, Northumberland, Newcastle, Sunderland, North Tyneside and South Tyneside councils, want to be able to co-ordiniate their efforts and plan for major economic developments.
The new authority will not replace the existing local government structure.
But it could have devolved powers to stimulate economic growth, job creation, skills development and improve transport links.
Today’s news paves the way for the formal enabling order to be agreed by parliament allowing the establishment of the Combined Authority to move ahead from April 1.
Durham County Council’s leader Simon Henig, chairman of the North-East Leadership Board that represents the seven councils, welcomed the move.
He said: “Working together is the best way to promote jobs and growth and to secure devolution of funding, powers and responsibilities from Government.
“We share ambitious plans for the future of our area and we are determined to work together to deliver them.
“We are therefore delighted to receive today’s news from Cabinet Office and look forward to the necessary formalities being progressed so that we can launch on April 1 this year.
“This is all about playing to our strengths and uniting to ensure the brightest possible prospects for our residents and our businesses.
“This is an important and exciting moment in our history and we are ready now to deliver on our ambitious plans.”
The combined authority is backed backed by business organisations in the region, including the influential North-East Chamber of Commerce.
Earlier this year there were fears the region may miss out on the new body when it was reveal the North-East had been left off a list of proposed super-councils because Sunderland City Council had stalled over an agreement.
Its leader, Paul Watson said it could not sign up until more details were known but the authority eventually did back the initiative following talks with the other authorities.