TeessideTogether – 25 October 2015
‘GENUINE CONSULTATION’ CALL OVER DEVOLUTION DEAL PROPOSALS
The Chairman of the TeessideTogether organisation says there must be ‘proper and genuine consultation’ with local people and other interests over the proposed ‘devolution deal’ which includes the move to an Elected Mayor.
Dave Roberts says that whilst it has been made clear by the North East Combined Authority that they will be consulting over the deal covering Durham, Tyne and Wear and Northumberland, in this area there has been no such assurance so far.
Mr Roberts, who has announced he intends to stand as Elected Mayor for ‘Teesside and Darlington’ argues that one of the crucial issues on which people must be consulted is the right identity for the area rather than seeking to continue efforts to impose the failed ‘Tees Valley’ brand.
He explained “Of course, the fact that new money is coming to the area has to be welcomed, but it must be right that there is proper and genuine consultation over the proposals. The Chair of the North East Combined Authority has given a clear assurance that ‘we will now be in further consultation with our partners, residents, business, trade unions and the voluntary sector so that everyone can be part of this process as we move forward’ and indeed in a television interview he made clear that would include public meetings.
“So far we do not seem to have had such an assurance from the ‘Tees Valley’ Combined Authority. Its Chair has said that ‘we will be speaking to local residents and businesses about what the proposals mean for them.’
Simply speaking to people is very different from real consultation and I sincerely hope that here in Teesside and Darlington we will have the same rights to have our voices heard as those covered by the North East Authority.
“It is especially important in this area because of the desperate need to ensure that, in order to take full advantage of the Government’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ we have an identity which has both strong support locally and is easily understood by the rest of the world.
“All the evidence shows that, despite almost 20 years of effort, ‘Tees Valley’ remains deeply unpopular and unrecognised. The consultation process must involve giving people the opportunity to say what they want.
“It is clear that across much of the area Teesside enjoys strong support but that may not be the case with many people in Darlington which is why I believe the right way forward is adopt the ‘Teesside and Darlington’ identity .It is clear and real, unlike the false ‘Tees Valley’ label, and would greatly assist us to play a full part alongside the other major conurbations across the North.
“I hope that our local leaders will make clear they are just as committed as their colleagues in the North East to proper consultation on this and the other aspects of the devolution deal.”