This morning the Government announced a £1.4bn devolution deal for the North East which will now go through a public consultation if agreed by Councils and Cabinet.
This deal includes both South Tyneside and Gateshead Councils who are in my constituency of Jarrow. I have had regular discussions with council leader’s and officers on the bid and what is needed for our constituency.
This devolution deal will bring much needed investment into our region – a region that has been left behind by successive Conservative governments.
While this funding will not be a cure-all for decades of underfunding, the investment into transport will hugely benefit my constituents with a £900 million package of investment to transform our transport system, with £563m from the ‘city regional sustainable transport fund’ on top of funding previously announced for our buses and metro system.
The investment in housing, education and transport sectors will allow our communities to start to rebuild, and the deal proposes giving our local authorities greater autonomy to act in the best interest of our residents, communities and local economy. It will help ensure that vital decisions that will have an impact on our region will be made in the North East and not in Westminster.
If successful, this funding will provide our region with a much-needed boost but we shouldn’t forget that we are so desperate for investment due to a decade of underfunding from successive Tory governments.
Our communities rely on councils for safeguarding, social care, housing and so much more.
Over the last decade Council budgets have been cut by 60% and the gap in regional inequality between London and the North East has more than doubled in the past year.
While I am pleased that we may be getting one of the biggest devolution deals, we must remember – this Government has attempted to destroy the fabric of our communities and now wants praise for undoing some of the damage done as a result of their policies.