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Response to Bob Cook

Sent to Gazette ‘Feedback’ – 28 January 2016.

Dave Roberts – Prospective Independent Teesside & Darlington Mayoral Candidate.

It is a pity that in responding to my suggestion of the need to consider the case for a single Teesside unitary authority, Councillor Bob Cook fails to address the key issue that the current structure is not fit for purpose…both in meeting the financial realities and enabling us to hold our own in the ‘devolution revolution.’

As I pointed out, trying to meet the needs of a relatively small area with the current fragmented structure inevitably means more scarce resources being spent on bureaucracy—both political and administrative—than front-line services. I am sure that the authorities do their best to manage within the current structure but we need to face up the need for fundamental change.

Not only would a single Teesside authority deliver better value for money but it would also provide a genuinely united ‘voice’ alongside cities such as Leeds, Manchester and—yes, even Newcastle—in benefitting from the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ agenda.

Bob Cook refers to the Middlesbrough Mayoral campaign—perhaps he should remember that during campaign when one of the candidates asked for people’s views, there was overwhelming support for a single authority.

He is wrong in suggesting that I am now seeking to stand as Elected Mayor for the ‘Tees Valley’—a concept which he must surely know will never gain real public support. If he cares to check he will find that, when announcing my intention to stand, I made crystal clear that it would be as Mayor for Teesside and Darlington—an identity which I believe would gain most support within the area and recognition elsewhere.

It is depressing that Bob Cook trots out the party political comment that the ‘real problem’ is Government cuts. He may be right but we have to live in the real world and deliver a local government structure which meets the realities.

That’s why we need an Elected Mayor free from political ‘baggage’ who recognises that it really is time for a change and that we need both a local government structure which puts people and services first…and can generate the unity of purpose we so desperately need.

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