Skip to content
  1. Do it online
  2. Login
  3. Have your say
  4. My Durham

Trailblazer devolution deal signed by council leaders

Published March 18, 2024 12.20pm


An historic transfer of power and money from Westminster to the North East was confirmed today following the signing of a landmark devolution deal between the government and the leaders of the region's major councils.

Trailblazer devolution deal

Government minister Jacob Young and the leaders of the seven north east authorities

The North East 'trailblazer' devolution deal will hand the incoming North East Mayor and Cabinet more control over transport, housing and skills, and makes available over £100 million of new funding that can be invested in the North East's priorities.

It sets a clear route for the region to take on the same core powers agreed with West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, and in places it goes further - with a trailblazing approach to public sector innovation and a new North East Coastal and Rural Taskforce being set up to strengthen the region's rural and coastal communities.

To mark the historic moment, seven council leaders from County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland came together at St Chad's College in Durham to sign the agreement with Levelling Up Minister Jacob Young.

Shift in power

These powers are in addition to the devolved powers coming to the new North East Combined Authority in May, following the election of a mayor.

Council leaders secured the right to agree the 'deeper devolution' deal as part of the region's original devolution negotiations.

The new powers are designed to reflect the region's unique geography, with a mixture of urban, rural, and coastal communities.

In a joint statement, the seven Leaders said: "Today's event marks another welcome shift in power from central government to the North East.

"This trailblazer deal will help us deliver on our ambitions, working with our communities on the things that matter most to them.

"As the people who represent our communities we are better placed to make decisions on local priorities.

"We are strongest when we all work together and we are already seeing the benefit of that collaboration."

Transformational change

Levelling Up Minister Jacob Young said: "I'm delighted to sign this landmark deal which will deliver transformational change across the North East. 

"This is a significant step forward in our mission to level up, and I want to thank all the leaders who have come to together to make it happen.

"Devolution is all about handing local communities the keys to their own future, with decisions taken by the people who know their areas best. Today the North East takes back control."

Highlights of the deal

  • A £25m investment to support the development of the Riverside Sunderland site along with creation of a 'Growth Zone' to attract investment.
  • Investment of £10m to accelerate progress on a Health Innovation Zone - including the Health Innovation Neighbourhood and Forth Yards sites in Newcastle.
  • Support for the region's rural and coastal economy - including a new Taskforce to support biodiversity and the natural environment.
  • £58m of funding brought forward to cover the maintenance and renewal of the Tyne and Wear Metro system for the next two years.
  • A single funding pot for housing and regeneration, more influence over affordable housing with a commitment to a future single government department style financial settlement.
  • Creation of a formal rail board with the government and rail industry to jointly develop plans for improvements to rail infrastructure and services in the region.
  • Support for plans to develop the expansion of the "Pop" card onto local rail services.
  • More local responsibility for developing and delivering adult education, skills and careers advice and working in partnership with Department for Work and Pensions to improve how people get into work.
  • More control over delivering affordable homes for residents, in partnership with Homes England.
  • A North East Strategic Energy Board which will coordinate energy supply and demand and promote growth in the offshore wind sector.
  • Development of a blueprint to support growth of the creative industries, heritage, sport and the visitor economy, and new opportunities to attract additional investment.
  • The Government will also work to address barriers to growth at the region's ports and airport - the Green Superport - including on policy areas like grid infrastructure capacity and developing an industry-leading skills pipeline.

The devolution deal agreed by Leaders with Government in December 2022 means a new combined authority will be formed in May this year, following an election of a mayor on 2 May.

The trailblazer deal announced today will be formally ratified by the new North East Mayor and Cabinet later this summer.