Monday, 21 March 2016

Labour Standing up for Rural Communities as Devo. deal gets Cautious Welcome.


21 MARCH 2016






Motion to Northumberland County Council Cabinet



Cabinet is minded to approve the Devolution Agreement for the North East and initiate the creation of a Mayoral Combined Authority for the North East, provided that the following assurances from Government are forthcoming:


(a)       The Devolution Agreement, which the Leader the Council signed in October 2015, represents the reality of what the Government is going to deliver, with neither the substance nor content of the various pledges “watered down” in the light of subsequent discussions between officials;


(b)       There is an undertaking that the forthcoming Fair Funding Review and subsequent approach to the proposed Business Rate Retention Scheme will properly address the current inequality within the local government funding model associated with rurality and sparsity in delivering Council services;


(c)        Subject to the outcome of the next stage of the GRIP viability process due to conclude in the Spring, the Combined Authority and the Government give a clear commitment that the necessary funds to re-establish passenger services on the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne Line will be forthcoming; and


(d)       There is a commitment to build a “rural proofing” element into the prioritisation and allocation of the North East Investment Fund (which will also include subsequent allocations from the Local Growth Fund) to ensure that rural areas are not left behind and receive an equitable share of funding to promote sustainable economic growth


The subsequent drafting and approval of the necessary Order which will provide the legislative framework for the creation of a Mayoral Combined Authority for the North East provides space (up until November at the very latest) for the above issues to be worked through.  This will also allow the initial implications of the outcome of the European in/out referendum on the Devolution Agreement to be evaluated, particularly with regard to the future distribution of European Union funding programmes.


On this basis, the Council’s Cabinet will be in a position to assess, as part of its consideration of the draft Order, whether the assurances detailed above have been sufficiently received from Government for the Council to proceed with the Devolution Agreement.




Following acceptance by Cabinet of the motion:


We will continue to talk and negotiate with Government on our stated position.

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