Commenting on the Tees Valley Devolution Deal which was signed in principle today (23rd October 2015) Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, said:
“It has to be remembered that councils over the past 5 years and for the foreseeable future will have faced an unprecedented level of cuts by the Tories that has severely diminished the services local authorities have been able to provide for local people. So, the devolution deal signed today should acknowledge that tens of millions of pounds have already been lost from Teesside communities.
“Inevitably there are pluses and minuses to the devolution deal. A newly formed Tees Valley Investment Fund that will have an allocation of £15m per year is welcome, but you have to put this alongside the cuts I’ve already mentioned and question ‘what will £15m be worth in 30 years’ time?’
“Any claims that this deal has magically created a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ need to be tempered. Particularly in light of the Government’s failure to support steelmaking on Teesside.
“Obviously I have concerns around the Government’s insistence that a Mayor has to be part of any deal and I would like to see the details of any autonomous powers they may have, but I do welcome that the Mayor will also be required to consult the Tees Valley Cabinet – made up of local authority leaders – on his or her strategies, which it may reject if three of the five members agree to do so.
“With a lot of reservations I do welcome the deal in principle. I recognise that, for the area to have any clout on the national stage, it requires local authorities working together on key projects for the area such as creating more jobs, developing skills for our young people and major infrastructure projects.”