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North East of England leaders start devolution talks

Words: Laura Edgar

Members of the North East Combined Authority (Neca) have written to the government requesting discussions about a "radical devolution deal" for the region.

Neca will also discuss having an elected mayor, its chair Simon Henig confirmed.

The move follows an announcement in May by chancellor George Osborne that city regions will get extra powers, including over housing and transport, if they agree to have an elected mayor.

Councils who form the North East Combined Authority:

• Durham County Council

• Gateshead City Council

• Newcastle City Council

• North Tyneside Council

• Northumberland County Council

• South Tyneside Council

• Sunderland City Council

In a letter to communities secretary Greg Clark, the leaders and elected mayor of Neca's seven councils (see table) detailed their “ambitions for a radical devolution deal” which would, according to Neca, position the area as the Northern Powerhouse’s export region.

Henig said: “We want to explore with government the scope for a radical devolution deal for the North East, with substantial devolution of powers and responsibilities.

“We will approach this process of negotiation with an open mind about where this takes us and are all firmly committed to seizing the opportunity that real devolution presents for our region.”

The combined authority says it wants to focus on pushing export-led growth and enabling the region's businesses to take advantage of international opportunities.

To do this, Neca says it will be consulting with businesses and trade unions before publishing its plans in the autumn.