Iain Malcolm, the leader of South Tyneside Council, has lobbed a very interesting little early firework into the fast-moving debate about devolution.
Writing in today’s Journal (Page 47) he welcomes Ed Miliband’s pledge to devolve more powers to the regions if Labour wins the election, using the combined authorities as the vehicle to do so.
The combined authority for the North East currently covers the five Tyne and Wear authorities, County Durham and Northumberland. Coun Malcolm wants to start a conversation with the five Tees Valley authorities with a view to welcoming them into the fold.
Whoever wins the election it appears regional leaders will soon be having a conversation with the Government about the powers the authority will have – and its budget.
Having Teesside join us on our side of the table will unquestionably strengthen our hand – providing regional rivalry is kept to a minimum. This is an idea well worth pursuing.